The fact his non-smoking twin brother died of lung cancer at the age of 44 haunts Bob O’Reilly.
Bill O’Reilly of Corner Brook waged a five-year battle against the disease before he died in 2014.
His brother, Bob, had quit smoking after Bill’s initial diagnosis and stayed away from cigarettes for 2 ½ years. Not long after he picked it up again, Bill’s cancer returned.
“I know his lung cancer was not related to smoking or second-hand smoke, but I always felt like he had my cancer,” Bob said of the cruel irony of his brother’s disease.
“That really shook me to the core. It still does.”
Bill’s death not only inspired Bob O’Reilly to quit smoking for good, but ignited a passion inside him to help others give up cigarettes.
O’Reilly, who now lives in Halifax, has made good on that promise to his brother. He is president and co-founder of Qwidder Inc., a company that has developed a mobile app of the same name that is designed to help people quit smoking.
The app, named after the way some Eastern Canadian folks might pronounce the word quitter, was launched this past weekend.
Users enter personal data regarding their smoking habits to create a profile. The tracking feature also keeps tabs of things like cravings, money saved by not smoking and the health benefits from stopping.
The user can set their quit date and gradually progress toward that target if they don’t want to quit cold turkey. The app can also be used in conjunction with other smoking cessation products, such as patches or puffers.
It even offers distraction challenges to help fight off cravings, and offers rewards for when milestones are achieved.
While there are other smoking cessation apps available on the market, O’Reilly said this one has features others don’t.
In particular, the app allows the user to designate someone as their accountability partner. That other person gets access to an accompanying app they freely download in order to get alerts from the person trying to quit when they need a little help.
The main app has a panic button the user can simply tap to send an alert to their accountability partner.
It’s also possible for a non-smoker, or someone who isn’t ready to quit, for that matter, to download the accountability app and then send the main Qwidder app to someone they would like to help kick the habit.
“Most of the apps out there are generic,” said O’Reilly. “They track your costs savings, but there isn’t really any motivation or support like there is with Qwidder.”
O’Reilly said he has struggled with the concept of selling a product inspired by his brother’s death. He had envisioned the app being free to everyone, but said he and his business partners have to recover the costs to create the app.
Still, he said the cost is minimal and shouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone who wants to quit.
The key demographic O’Reilly wants to market the app to is younger people who still have the luxury of being able to quit earlier in life.
“In my personal hard-earned opinion, the hardest part of quitting smoking can be starting,” he said. “If Qwidder is the start of the process for some people, I’ve done my job.”