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New smoking study shows extremely high quit rates

University Of Wisconsin-Madison : 28 August, 2006  (Technical Article)
Early data from the Wisconsin Smokers' Health Study suggest that treatments provided in the study are producing some of the highest quit rates ever achieved. Among study participants receiving active medication, more than 60 percent have remained tobacco-free at the end of treatment (one of the measures used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The Wisconsin Smokers' Health Study, conducted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention and funded by the National Institutes of Health, is one of the most comprehensive research studies ever to be undertaken on smokers and their health. More than 1,500 smokers will undergo extensive testing so researchers can obtain information on many aspects of their lives, physical, mental, emotional, diet, exercise and social relationships.

'One thing that makes this study unique is the number of different treatments being compared,' says Timothy Baker, the study's principal investigator. 'We are comparing five different medication conditions, one of which is a medication combination never previously studied.'

These treatment groups are nicotine patch, nicotine lozenge, bupropion (Zyban), nicotine patch plus nicotine lozenge, and bupropion plus lozenge. All participants receive extensive counseling on strategies for quitting.

Although UW-CTRI is still recruiting participants for the study, researchers were able to examine results from the first 350 participants. At the end of treatment (eight weeks), abstinence from smoking was biochemically confirmed for more than 60 percent of participants receiving active treatment, one of the highest quit rates seen in people trying to quit.

'These results are important,' says Baker, 'because most smokers relapse within a week of beginning treatment. The fact that these smokers are abstinent at eight weeks is highly encouraging.'

Although most people are aware that smoking causes lung cancer, fewer know that smoking is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes. For that reason, the study includes extensive testing of the cardiovascular system both before and after quitting. Tests of some participants produced findings that have led to referrals for prompt medical attention for cardiovascular conditions.

In interviews conducted by the study's quality assurance team, study participants gave favorable ratings to the counseling component, the staff and information obtained from the medical tests. For most people, the biggest surprise was being able to quit, or that quitting was easier than they thought.

More than 1,500 participants are being recruited from Madison and Milwaukee for the study. More than 800 have already enrolled. Thus far, close to 60 percent of the participants are women. Participants' ages have ranged from 18-75. Recruitment is expected to continue throughout 2006. Smokers wishing to volunteer can call 1-877-END-CIGS (363-2447) or visit

Participants must be at least 18 years old and willing to comply with study requirements during a three-year period. In addition to smoking cessation treatment, participants undergo various assessments. These include cardiovascular status, personality, diet, exercise, quality of life, alcohol use, smoking withdrawal symptoms, stress tolerance and nicotine dependence.

This study is part of the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center program, funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health has provided cessation and prevention services in Wisconsin since 1992 and is a nationally recognized research center.
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