Cigarettes kill six million people worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Most smokers eventually want to quit, but can’t because of their nicotine addiction. Taiwanese designer Yi-Wen Tseng decided to tackle this problem as a design challenge.

Cigarettes contain on average 4000 chemical substances, 250 of which are harmful and at least 50 are carcinogenic. One of these substances, nicotine, is highly addictive, and tobacco manufacturers design their cigarettes to even increase the addiction. That is why historian Robert Procter has classified cigarettes as ‘deadly by design’.

The addiction to nicotine makes quitting is so difficult – only 4 to 7 percent are able to quit smoking on any given attempt without medicines or other help. Even when smokers get sick, they often continue their habit. This was the case with Yi-Wen Tseng’s grandfather too. As a student of product design at China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Tseng – who currently follows a master programme at Royal College of Art in London – decided to see what she could do to make quitting more easy.

The results are several concepts that might help smokers to reduce smoking. In one concept all cigarettes in one package are numbered, making the smoker aware of the amount of smokes he has per day. Another idea is to put cigarettes with different sizes of filters in a package, so that one would inhale less smoke with each new cigarette.

Tseng also thought of a cigarette with filters on both sides, made for sharing, and an idea to print individual numbers on each filter, making them traceable to the smoker. This would counter the littering of filters, a major pollution problem.

Far fetched? Sure. But nevertheless interesting as a thought experiment.