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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Smoke-Free Homes Intervention Aims to Help Low-Income Smokers Quit

Researchers from the Washington University in St. Louis – Brown School Public Health Programs have begun work on a five-year, $3.9 million study that tests an innovative approach to help low-income smokers quit smoking.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the study began July 23 and will recruit nearly 2,000 low-income smokers from nine states where smoking prevalence exceeds the U.S. average of 15 percent. Half the participants will be offered the current standard for population-level treatment: cessation counseling through state telephone quitlines.

The limitation of this approach is that smokers have to be willing to quit in about 30 days to enroll in a quitline program.  The other half of participants will be offered the quitline but if they are not ready to quit, they will be offered a smoke-free homes intervention to establish rules against smoking in their homes. Previous studies have shown the effectiveness of the smoke-free homes program on both creating a smoke-free home and cessation.

Smoking rates in the U.S. are much higher among those in poverty, with Medicaid, uninsured or with low education or serious psychological stress. Few of these smokers are ready to quit, which disqualifies 70 to 80 percent of low-income smokers from receiving quitline services.

The study is led by Dr. Matthew Kreuter, Kahn Family Professor of Public Health at the Brown School; and Dr. Amy McQueen, co-director of the school’s Health Communication Research Laboratory, where the research is based.

“This is a challenging practical trial study design to assess the population impact of offering smokers another service that may pave the way to greater cessation rates overall compared to the status quo,” Dr. McQueen said.

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