A smartphone app that has proved effective in helping smokers kick the habit provides the added bonus of being covered by public health insurance, company officials said.

The software, approved by the Central Social Insurance Medical Council on Nov. 11, is the brainchild of Tokyo-based start-up CureApp Inc.

In early December, it became the first such anti-smoking app covered by public health insurance.

The smartphone app works with a device to measure carbon monoxide levels in breath.

Patients not only learn about nicotine addiction but also receive messages and videos to help them remain smoke-free, depending on the progress of their treatment, according to CureApp.

The app system plays a supplementary role to standard anti-smoking therapies. Although anyone can download the app, doctors will prescribe login codes only when they decide use of the software is essential.

With the health insurance covering 70 percent of the costs, patients will pay 7,620 yen ($73.08) for use of the app and breath analyzing device. The price does not include expenses for standard anti-smoking treatments.

According to a document submitted to the council, a clinical trial on 572 individuals showed that the ratio of people who could stop smoking for six months was 13 percentage points higher among those who used the app.