Smoking is the largest avoidable cause of preventable morbidity worldwide. It causes most of the cases of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and contributes to the development of other lung diseases.

SmokeFreeBrain aims to address the effectiveness of a multi-level variety of interventions aiming at smoking cessation in high risk target groups within High Middle Income Countries (HMIC) such as unemployed young adults, COPD and asthma patients, as well as within the general population in Low Middle Income Countries (LMIC). The project addresses existing approaches aiming to prevent lung diseases caused by tobacco while at the same time it develops new treatments and analyzes their contextual adaptability to the local and global health care system.

SmokeFreeBrain follows an interdisciplinary approach exploiting consortium’s expertise in various relevant fields in order to generate new knowledge. State of the art techniques in toxicology, pulmonary medicine, neuroscience and behavior will be utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of:

  • Public Service Announcement (PSA) against smoking,
  • The use of electronic cigarettes with and without nicotine as a harm reduction approach and/or cessation aid,
  • a specifically developed neurofeedback intervention protocol against smoking addiction
  • a specifically developed intervention protocol based on behavioral therapy, social media/mobile apps and short text messages (sms) and
  • pharmacologic interventions.


The main objective of the project is to evaluate the interventions in terms of health economics, by studying their cost-effectiveness, and proposing a scalable plan and a clear pathway to embedding the proposed interventions into policy and practice both in LMIC as well as in HMIC. The objectives of the project are outlined below in more detail:

  • Examine the effects of the use of electronic cigarettes, during the initial phase of smoking cessation.
  • Examine the possible formation of carcinogenic nitrosocompounds via the exposure to nicotine through electronic cigarette vaping.
  • Examine the global DNA methylation status under two different situations, tobacco smoking and e-cigarette vapour inhaling.
  • Development and evaluation of a novel neurofeedback protocol for smoking cessation.
  • Develop a smoking cessation intervention based on adherence to physical activity with ICT support (App Gamification, Facebook and SMS).
  • Generate and validate a set of software tools that can be used to inform EU policymakers and local governments as to how to produce optimal Public Service Announcements (PSA) regarding smoking.
  • Develop a best practice guide regarding the best practices that promote smoking cessation and how these can be applied in large scale.
  • Evaluate and report on the cost-effectiveness of the proposed interventions.
  • Report on policy suggestions.
  • Examine the effectiveness of the proposed interventions in socioeconomic and health demographics terms.


PI: Anton Civit Balcells
Type: European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
Reference: No 681120
Start date: 01-11-2015
End date: 31-10-2018
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