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New Tobacco Cessation Lab Aims to Blend Psychology with Medication to Curb Smoking

More than 23 percent of adults in Ohio are smokers, a rate that’s much higher than the national average of 19.6 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

A new tobacco cessation research lab out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine aims to address that high number. The End Nicotine Dependence program will involve both experimental research and new treatments designed to curb tobacco addiction in Northeast Ohio.

The lab places an emphasis on psychology-based approaches to treating smokers, including speaking with a counselor and learning how to change their motivations for daily life without cigarettes, according to Monica Webb Hooper, Associate Director for Cancer Disparities Research at Case and who heads the lab.

"We’re using a fundamentally psychological and behavioral approach to addressing this problem," Hooper said. "And that means that we are really helping individuals get to the core of their smoking and addressing those underlying mechanisms that contribute to their continued use of tobacco and result in relapse after cessation."

Combining medications with counseling has been shown to be the most effective treatment for smoking cessation. Offering that combination to the community through the research lab could be one way to address the high smoking rate in Northeast Ohio, says Ashley Braun-Gabelman, a clinical psychologist at University Hospitals.

"Anyone who is going to be offered the psychological interventions on top of the nicotine replacement therapy, is going to be in a really good position," Braun-Gabelman said. "So if we can offer that to more people, then that’s a really great thing."

Hooper says the free program will try to recruit smokers from communities throughout Northeast Ohio.

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