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November 2007 Issue

Jane Pruemer, PharmD, and pharmacy student Chad Droege demonstrate a device used to measure carbon monoxide in the lungs. The chemical is one of about 7,000 found in cigarette smoke.
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'Quitters' Really Do Win Through Smoking Cessation Program

By Amanda Harper
Published November 2007

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 UC Barrett Cancer Center at University Hospital.

Supported by the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation, UC and University Hospital, the individualized, 12-week program is free to qualifying individuals.

Participants work with Jane Pruemer, PharmD, Apruva Mehta, MD, and Shauna Buring, PharmD, to form individualized smoking cessation plans.

The team uses both behavior modification techniques and prescription medications, which are provided at no cost, to help people stop smoking.

"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 Pruemer, the oncology pharmacist who runs the clinic two days a week. 

Since the program’s inception in late August 2004, about 534 patients registered for the local program and attended at least one visit.

For those who completed at least three visits, about 72 percent quit smoking initially and about 56 percent reported kicking the habit for good.

"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.

"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,” she adds.

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.

In addition, the habit has been connected to hypertension, emphysema, heart disease and chronic coughing and colds.

In Greater Cincinnati the problem is magnified by a higher-than-average percentage of adult smokers (30 percent) compared to the rest of Ohio (22 percent) and the nation (21 percent).

James Reynolds, a 37-year-old lighting designer from the west side of Cincinnati, says he hasn’t puffed a cigarette since early October 2007.

Reynolds began smoking at age 19, and although he’s tried multiple times to quit on his own—including at least three times this year—he didn’t experience any success until enrolling in Win by Quitting.

Reynolds is taking Chantix (varenicline), a new oral smoking cessation drug that blocks the neural receptors for nicotine.

Win by Quitting participants have access to no-cost prescription medications, including Chantix, nicotine patches or an extended release product that helps decrease smoking urges (bupropion).

"Stress, anxiety and boredom have always driven me to smoke,” explains Reynolds. "But after nearly 20 years of smoking, I have a stronger desire to quit and improve my health, save money and eliminate my dependence on cigarettes.” 

Pruemer stresses that it’s never too late to experience health benefits from ceasing to smoke.

"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.”

How to Join the Program
The Win By Quitting program takes place at the UC Barrett Cancer Center at University Hospital, 234 Goodman St. The individualized, 12-week program is free to Hamilton County residents.

New patients are accepted on an ongoing basis. Appointments are available Monday through Friday by calling (513) 584-QUIT (7848).

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