UW looking for smokers who want to quit for free program

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE -- The University of Wisconsin has been awarded a new $10-million federal grant to discover the best ways to help Wisconsin residents stop smoking. The new study will include potentially life-saving tests—including artery scans that can signal impending risk of a stroke or heart attack—free of charge. Participants will also get free coaching and medications to help them quit smoking.

For more than 20 years Teresa Barley has been smoking a pack of cigarettes each day, However, after seeing her loved ones suffer the health consequences of smoking, she decided it was time to quit.

"Sitting and watching them die a slow painful death and you can do absolutely nothing, you can`t help the pain," Barley said.

Barley decided to join the Wisconsin Smokers' Health Study put on by the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

The study started about five years ago and it just received a $10 million grant, which will provide research spanning over a decade.

"What they said to us is 'we want you to study how you can help people quit, but at the same time see the benefits that you accrue from quitting over time,'" Dr. Michael Fiore, director of the UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention said.

All participants are given counselors and medication to wean the smoker off nicotine.

The study also includes life-saving tests, all for free.

"We`re going to test if your arteries are blocked. We`re going to see how your lungs are functioning. We`re going to follow any risks of cancer," Dr. Fiore said.

Out of the 1,500 participants in the first round of the study, 400 quit.

Doctors say this process is six times more effective then someone trying to quit on their own.

"It`s a situation where you win, you don`t lose. There`s nothing to lose," Bill Kemp who successfully quit smoking through the study said.

Now that the study is continuing for another five years, researchers are looking for smokers to participate.

As for Barley, it's been six years since she's picked up a cigarette and she has no plans on turning back.

"It taught me that if I can stop smoking there is absolutely nothing that I can`t accomplish," Barley said.

The Wisconsin Smokers' Health Study is looking to recruit another 600 - 800 smokers who would like to quit.

For more information you can call 1-866-end-cigs or visit EndCigs.com.