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Vagisha Kaushik|Jun 5, 2023
NEW DELHI: When IIT alumnus Prateek Sharma watched a no-smoking advisory starring actor Akshay Kumar in a cinema in 2018, an idea struck him that not only matched his line of research but could have a huge social impact as well.
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Nearly five years later, and after a lot of hard work and dogged perseverance, Sharma is set to launch Cigibud -- the world's first smoking cessation filter. Cigibud, which will be officially launched later on Wednesday, filters up to 80 per cent of tar and nicotine from a cigarette without affecting its taste and smoking experience, and will help a smoker quit in three months, Sharma claimed.
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When the idea of a smoking cessation filter came, Sharma was already on a mission to develop advanced air filtration solutions to curb the detrimental impact of pollution on human health. At the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, he had developed Nanofiber technology with the help of his professors and got it patented. When he graduated in 2015, he undertook efforts to make the technology commercially viable by launching products based on it.
His out-of-the-box efforts earned him the Startup National Award 2017 conferred by the President of India. "We were already working on some products such as Nasofilters, Nanoclean Pollution Net and Nasomask. However, the advisory inspired us to broaden our scope of work and we decided to use the same technology to develop something that can help people quit smoking," Sharma said.
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Sharma's team carried out a study which suggested that 63 per cent of smokers want to quit smoking but are unable to do so because of nicotine addiction. They also came to know that even according to the WHO, only four per cent of smokers succeed in quitting without any cessation support.
"We realised there was a void between advising to quit smoking and actually quitting smoking. We worked for four years...and came up with Cigibud - the world's first smoking cessation filter. It will help a smoker to quit smoking in three months," Sharma claimed.
According to him, it works by systematically getting a smoker used to lower levels of nicotine without causing craving for more cigarettes. "Cigibud is based on a three-month scientifically proven therapy to help quit smoking and is inspired by the Nicotine Replacement Therapy recommended by WHO for smoking cessation,” Sharma maintained.
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He added, “Our primary objective is to help people quit smoking through our...Cigibud variants (Lite, Ultra, Pro). But those who don't want to quit, they can at least start using Cigibud (Lite). The nanofibers of Cigibud (Lite) increase the smoothness of smoke and make it less injurious.”
Each packet of Cigibud contains 30 filters and it costs Rs 350. One filter is advised to be used only once but people can use it up to three times because beyond that it loses its effectiveness. Asked if the cost factor will discourage people from using it with one filter costing around Rs 10 and ideally should be used once, Sharma said that people should think about its long-term benefit, both in terms of heath and money, which they will have after quitting smoking or minimising the frequency of smoking.
"We are increasing your per cigarette cost by about 50 per cent for three months to help you eradicate smoking cost from your monthly budget," Sharma said. Sharma said he is also in touch with cigarette manufacturing companies in order to provide them with bio-safe cigarette filter material. "Littering of cigarette butts is the biggest reason for oceanic pollution at the moment and our technology can provide a solution to produce bio-safe filters,” Sharma said.
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