UCSF Launches Stop-Smoking Program for Older Smokers

April 19, 2002
News Office: Twink Stern (415) 502-6397

Long-time smokers who are 50 or older are needed to participate in a UCSF Department of Psychiatry smoking cessation study that started last fall.

"We are looking for more participants to join the program," said principal investigator Sharon Hall, UCSF professor and vice chair of psychiatry. There are immediate cardiovascular benefits and a better quality of life following smoking intervention no matter what the smoker's age, Hall said.

"We have designed the program to maximize the chances of abstinence. There are frequently other barriers to quitting tobacco, including social isolation, pervasive weight concerns and fluctuating motivation about cessation," she explained. The overall goal of the new research is to develop and evaluate interventions that maintain nonsmoking, and to gain a better understanding of the processes leading to smoking cessation and relapse.

In a former, related smoking cessation UCSF study, smokers were treated with antidepressants and nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). Preliminary results indicate three out of five people were abstinent for at least a year.

The new study will build on these promising findings, and will evaluate the extended pharmacological support and tailored interventions to maintain high abstinence rates in chronic, older smokers.

Participants will be randomly assigned to groups and receive 12 weeks of long-acting Zyban, an antidepressant approved by the FDA to quit smoking, and 10 weeks' supply of nicotine gum. They also will attend five sessions of group counseling at the UCSF Habit Abatement Clinic, 919 Irving St. in the Inner Sunset. Counseling will offer health-related information, group discussion of smoking cessation strategies and a personalized plan to quit smoking.

Participants must be at least 50 years of age and smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day. PThey will be interviewed by experts in the field of habit abatement.

Besides the medication and gum, they also will receive evaluations throughout the program.

Following the initial 12-week program, participants will be assigned randomly to four different treatment conditions, each with a different combination of stop-smoking interventions (a variety of plans including continued medication and/or support therapy.) This smoking cessation study for the older population will include 448 participants over a 28-month recruiting period. For more information, call (415) 476-7453 or go to the website at http://www.ucsf.edu/nosmoke/. Funding for the study is provided by a grant from National Institutes of Health.

This news release has been modified for the Web site