You may not smoke. Perhaps you never were a smoker or quit years ago. Many of your friends and family members who used to smoke may have quit also. I had my last cigarette January 20, 1991… and I do count the days because they represent freedom from a toxic habit and a personal win. Our possibly shared experience with cigarettes may seem old news, but smoking is still the most common preventable cause of death in the U.S., according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statement in May 2017. If the modifier “preventable cause” raises a flag indicating that perhaps the problem isn’t all that bad, check out the hard numbers. Each year smoking causes 480,000 deaths in the U.S., almost one in five. So the problem hasn’t eased. In fact, the CDC reports, “the risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.”

Redwood City, California-based Carrot Sense, Inc. recently received FDA clearance for its over-the-counter (OTC) handheld Carbon Monoxide Breath Sensor System (COBSS) for use in a smoking cessation program. FDA clearance doesn’t mean the device is safe or even that it works, but as stated in the FDA clearance letter, it is “substantially equivalent” to devices for the stated use previously marketed legally. In this case, the previous device referred to by the FDA is a prescription-only multipatient carbon monoxide (CO) sensor used by healthcare professionals and in healthcare settings. Carrot’s COBSS is a single user device for use by cigarette smokers to measure and display how carbon monoxide levels in their breath are affected by smoking. The Carrot handheld has an electrochemical sensor powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The device measures CO from 0 to 100 parts per million. The measurements display in a graph with the most recent readings at the top of the screen of a Bluetooth-paired smartphone Breath Sensor App.

Carrot doesn’t sell the CO sensing device separately. The company built the handheld sensor to use with Pivot, its recently launched smoking cessation program that includes motivational, educational, and coaching tools. Carrot will offer Pivot to U.S. employers to promote healthy workplaces, to reduce lost productivity, and to cut excess healthcare costs related to smoking.