A former plumber has been shortlisted for a Lord Stafford Award for innovation after developing a groundbreaking device to help smokers kick the habit.
Tom Rowley, aged 61, of Stafford, developed the ‘Six and Out’ device in 2005 after watching friends and family fail in their efforts to quit.
The inventor uses a set of six cigarette holders, which introduce increasing amounts of air when the smoker draws on the cigarette, gradually reducing the quantities of smoke and nicotine being inhaled.
Starting with just one vent, the smoker can progress through to number six over a number of weeks, enabling them to wean themselves off cigarettes.
Tom – who has never smoked and was forced to retire as a plumber due to ill health – was inspired to develop the product after he watched friends and family failing to quit.
The first version of the product – based on the lid of a biro – was sketched out in his garage before he enlisted the help of Different by Design.
It wasn’t long before the potential of the device benefited from the assistance of the Centre of Healthcare Innovation and Development (CHID) at New Cross Hospital, based in Wolverhampton.
They in turn brought in the University of Wolverhampton to help with its development.
Now taking on a truly West Midlands’ feel, it was the turn of the Manufacturing Advisory Service to add its expertise to the mix and, after months of planning and tweaking, Powell and Harbour in Worcester produced the first ‘Six and Out’ products.
He has now been recognised for his efforts with a short listing for the prestigious Lord Stafford Award.
The awards showcase the best in West Midlands collaboration between universities and businesses, with Tom nominated for an ‘Impact through Innovation Award’ at the ceremony at Worcester Cathedral on November 13.
Tom said: “The smoking ban, coupled with the economic situation at the moment, has led to a sharp increase in the number of people trying to stop the habit. Six and Out means that smokers can concentrate their efforts on gradually kicking the habit as they will slowly reduce the amount of nicotine and other harmful chemicals they are inhaling.”
Over 400 of the ‘Six and Out’ Devices have been manufactured and, following successful, completion of laboratory testing, it will shortly be entering clinical trials.
Lasting roughly three months, this next stepping stone is the one the inventor admits could well make the difference to bringing the product to market.
“There is even talk that the NHS may actually use them as a prescription treatment.”