UA study offers a free 6-step process to quit nicotine — on your phone


The Be Smoke Free study, conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona, consists of six-week sessions led by trained coaches dedicated to helping people quit smoking. (Courtesy Judith Gordon)

Elli Deibert

Be Smoke Free, a study conducted by the University of Arizona College of Nursing, consists of six sessions over the span of six weeks. 

“Quit coaches” hold one phone call meeting per week as part of the Be Smoke Free program.  These coaches are trained to create a personalized quit plan. Additionally offered by the program is nicotine replacement therapy, which includes products such as nicotine patches or nicotine lozenges free of charge

Judith Gordon, principal investigator of Be Smoke Free, explains that volunteers will get paid to participate.  

“If someone chooses to participate in the study, then they actually will get paid to complete all of the assessments. So there are three assessments and they will get paid $50 for completing those,” Gordon said.

In addition to the three assessments, an opportunity may arise where participants are involved in a Biochemical Verification of Tobacco Abstinence.

“If they report that they’ve quit at the six month assessment, they may be selected to receive a carbon monoxide breath test, and if they do that, they will get an additional $50,” Gordon said. 

Participants may be selected to participate in an interview that will take place after completing the study. If chosen, they could possibly earn an additional $25, according to Gordon.

This study is partnered with two other locations in West Virginia and New York. West Virginia is ranked highest in the country for its tobacco use rate.

“In West Virginia about 4,000 people each year die of diseases related to tobacco and nicotine use products,” Peter Giacobbi, investigator for West Virginia’s Be Smoke Free’s study, said.

Be Smoke Free is in its second year of a five year study. So far they have brought in close to 200 participants from its three locations and are looking to reach 1,200 participants by the end of the programs fifth year, according to Giaccobi.

Crista Meinke, a trained Be Smoke Free quit coach, explains the efforts the research team puts into reaching its goal.

“Some people are putting fliers out, others are talking to businesses or doctor’s offices. There’s a push, you know, at the university to get that information out,” Meinke said. 

As Gordon mentions, in order to quit, students must address both components of addiction and habit. 

“The younger you are when you stop, the easier it is to do so and the fewer health effects that you will have down the road,” Gordon said. “So the longer you wait to quit, the harder it gets and the more health consequences that you’re going to have. So being in college is a great time to stop smoking.”

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