Cincinnati—Sometimes quitters do win, especially among smokers.
Nearly 100 Hamilton County smokers have kicked the habit long-term through the pharmacist-assisted Win by Quitting smoking cessation clinic at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Barrett Cancer Center at University Hospital. The individualized, 12-week program is supported by the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation, UC and University Hospital, and is free to qualifying individuals.
"We know that about 70 percent of Americans who smoke want to quit, but only about 15 percent succeed in doing so on their own,” says Jane Pruemer, PharmD, a UC professor of pharmacy and oncology pharmacist who runs the clinic.
Since the program’s inception in August 2004, 534 patients have registered for Win by Quitting and attended at least one visit. For those who completed at least three visits, about 72 percent quit smoking initially and about 56 percent report kicking the habit for good.
Patients work with Pruemer, Apruva Mehta, MD, and Shauna Buring, PharmD, to create individualized smoking cessation plans. The team uses both prescription medications, which are provided at no cost, and behavior modification techniques to help people stop smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the single most common cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, and has been linked to an increased risk for lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, emphysema and other respiratory diseases.
UC experts say the problem is magnified in Greater Cincinnati. The region has a higher-than-average percentage of adult smokers (30 percent) compared to the rest of Ohio (22 percent) and the nation (21 percent).
"Anyone who is serious about kicking the habit and improving their overall health should take advantage of this free program sooner rather than later,” says Mehta, a medical oncologist who specializes in lung cancer and provides medical oversight for the Win by Quitting program.
Win by Quitting participants have access to no-cost prescription medications including Chantix (varenicline), a new oral smoking cessation drug that blocks the neural receptors for nicotine. Patients can also choose an extended release product that helps decrease urges to smoke (bupropion) or nicotine patches.
"People have unique stumbling blocks that interfere with their ability to quit smoking. For some people, it’s emotional or mental stress. For others, it’s anxiety or life changes,” says Pruemer. "To help the person successfully quit, though, we need to understand those barriers and form a strategy for overcoming them.”
Pruemer stresses that it’s never too late to experience health benefits from ceasing to smoke. In addition to a higher risk for lung cancer, smoking is linked to hypertension, emphysema, heart disease, chronic coughing and colds.
"We don’t give up on people who are willing to stick to the program,” she adds. "But to succeed, the patient needs to commit to quitting.”
The Win by Quitting program accepts new patients on an ongoing basis. Appointments are available on Mondays and Thursdays at the Barrett Cancer Center clinic, located at 234 Goodman St. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call (513) 584-QUIT (7848).
Win by Quitting is part of a joint cancer program involving the UC College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University Hospital. The collaborative initiative brings together interdisciplinary research teams of caring scientists and health professionals to research and develop new cures, while providing a continuum of care for children, adults and families with cancer.