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National partnership uses integrative health approach to help people stop smoking

Contributing to more than 480,000 deaths annually in the United States, smoking remains a problem nationwide, especially in the state of West Virginia. A West Virginia University professor is part of a team that is leading an effort to help adults quit smoking.

Peter Giacobbi, professor in the College of Applied Human Sciences and a member of the School of Public Health, is collaborating with research colleagues from the University of Arizona, the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y. and WV First Choice Services to launch the Be Smoke Free project.

The unique project is delivered to individuals during six weeks via phone and text with no in-person requirements. In addition to working with a coach trained in tobacco cessation treatment, participants will receive four weeks of nicotine patches or lozenges at no cost. Participants can also receive up to $100 for completing all study activities.

The team will recruit 1,200 smokers during the next three years to participate in the program, including 400 from West Virginia. Numerous sources cite West Virginia as having one of the highest rates of tobacco usage in the United States with more than 25 percent of adults being current smokers (compared to 15 percent nationally).

“Recent statistics about tobacco use in West Virginia leave no question that this is a very serious health crisis,” Giacobbi said.

The Be Smoke Free project will work in coordination with the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline, a service that provides free telephone support to individuals trying to stop using tobacco products.

“For the thousands of West Virginians who are ready to quit, the Be Smoke Free project will give our Quitline specialists one more tool to offer,” Lata Menon, CEO, WV First Choice Services, the organization that oversees the Quitline, said. “We couldn’t be happier to be part of the project.”

Judith Gordon, professor and associate dean for research at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, leads the project that is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

“Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of disease and death in the United States,” Gordon said. “There are still millions of smokers in the U.S. If you can get those people to quit, you’re going to greatly improve not only their health and well-being, but also the health and well-being of people who are exposed to their secondhand tobacco smoke. There’s enormous potential for improving public health."

Gordon explains that the program provides robust support to smokers who are ready to quit for good. “Because the Be Smoke Free program is delivered entirely remotely, there is tremendous potential to reach smokers wherever they are, whenever they’re ready,” she said.

To learn more about the Be Smoke Free program or to enroll, visit the project website at, email, or call 520-621-0458.

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