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EX Program from Truth Initiative announces new AI-driven recommender engine for tobacco cessation

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For the first time, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven program is being deployed to help adults nationwide quit smoking, vaping, and using nicotine. The EX® Program from Truth Initiative, the leading digital health program for tobacco addiction for employers and health plans, announced this week the launch of Scout, the program’s new content recommender engine. Scout pairs expert content from Truth Initiative and its longstanding partner, the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, with the motivations and preferences of individual tobacco users to create a highly personalized, evidence-based cessation treatment experience.

Scout is the first tobacco cessation tool of its kind to leverage machine learning, the subset of AI that enables a machine or system to learn and improve from experience. This technology, first used by companies such as Amazon, uses algorithms to analyze large amounts of data and learn from patterns to provide personalized content recommendations.

Scout serves as a digital partner to connect tobacco users to proven tips and strategies for quitting that are the most personally relevant for their unique quitting experience. Content recommended by Scout includes articles written by tobacco treatment experts with actionable tips and strategies that people who smoke, vape, and/or chew tobacco can practice in their own quit. Scout also serves up stories and testimonials from former and current tobacco users in the EX Community that provide inspiration and peer support. Each user’s recommended content is tailored based on what they and others like them have found useful in the past.

“Advances in AI have created a new world of possibilities, and we’re happy to be able to use them strategically in an evidence-based intervention to help those working to quit smoking and vaping,” stated Dr. Amanda Graham, Chief of Innovations at Truth Initiative and head of the EX Program. “As the tobacco industry continues to innovate, it’s equally important for us to do the same. Scout is an exciting new tool in an accessible, scalable digital solution that will more effectively guide tobacco users across the U.S. to successfully quit.”

In 2021, about 46 million Americans – 19% of adults aged 18 and over – used some form of tobacco, most commonly cigarettes. Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S. and a leading driver of excess healthcare costs, absenteeism, and presenteeism for employers. Today, each employee who smokes costs a company $8,156 more than a non-smoker. The EX Program delivers a personalized quit plan with content served by Scout, the longest running online community for 24/7 peer support, expert coaches available through live chat, dynamic text messaging, and quit medication delivered to the participant’s home.

Throughout the rollout and optimization of Scout, the EX Program team is closely monitoring how users engage with the program, ensuring that it works equally well for all members. This focus on health equity is especially critical since tobacco use is more prevalent among certain segments of the population, including individuals with lower levels of education and income, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ individuals.

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