February 7, 2016

UW seeks smokers hoping to quit

cigThe University of Wisconsin Medical School is looking for up to 800 smokers to participate in a new study, after the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention was recently given $10 million in federal funds for research from the National Institutes of Health. The grant is intended to help advance the understanding of the most effective ways to help people quit smoking and the benefits that quitting has on the body over time.

Dr. Michael Fiore, Director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the UW Medical School, says the grant will help continue the Wisconsin Smokers’ Health Study that began about seven years ago. That group will be supplemented with an additional 800 new participants. “The 1,500 smokers … we will help them to quit (by) using three medications. Everyone will get real medicine, everyone will get a coach who will work with them every step of the way as they quit, and everyone will get very extensive medical tests.”

History shows participants benefit from the support and coaching of others. Fiore says more than 35 percent of smokers in the previous study permanently kicked the habit, while less than 5 percent stay smoke free if they rely solely on willpower — that’s a six-fold increase.

Fiore says we don’t expect people with diabetes or high blood pressure to just buck up and go it alone. Patients would use every medical treatment available to them and, he says, the same should be true for anyone wanting to stop smoking.

Fiore says smoking is unequal in terms of the damage it does. “Fully half of smokers, if they don’t quit, will be killed by a disease directly caused by smoking.” But there’s good news, if you do quit, Fiore says, you’ll begin to reap the benefits immediately and continue to benefit for the rest of your life.

There are already proven benefits of giving up cigarettes. Fiore says people feel better emotionally, experience less anxiety, and have less stress upon quitting. The arteries have more elasticity — a sign of better blood flow, people are less winded when they quit, and the risk of cancer decreases upon cessation. The goal is to see, three to five years later, the benefits to the body as a result of having quit the habit.

This study is unique in that it follows participants over time. To participate in the study call: 1-866-END-CIGS or visit Participants will get Chantix, a patch, or a lozenge to see how well they do with quitting.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:48

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