New study to help Wisconsinites to quit smoking. Local woman says similar program worked

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- A new UW study will try to get 4,000 people to quit smoking cigarettes, part of an effort to create an effective treatment plan for smokers across the country.

Breaking Addiction to Tobacco for Health 2, or BREATH 2, will do this by comparing current treatments to help people quit in clinic.

The university says UW-CTRI will partner with Aurora Health Care and UW Health. The program will contact patients of the two health care systems who are listed as smokers in electronic health records.

The university says BREATH 2 is the first experiment to compare two of the most effective treatment programs: varenicline (Chantix) and combination nicotine-replacement medications.

BREATHE 2 is led by Principal Investigators Dr. Tim Baker (right) and Dr. Michael Fiore (left), research director and director of the UW-CTRI.

The study will then try to determine whether the treatments are enhanced by various types of counseling (in person, over the phone) or by taking medications before or after the treatment program.

NBC15 spoke to one Madison woman who participated in a similar UW-Madison study, and she says because of the study she put down the cigarettes for good.

"I’d be halfway up this little hill and I’d be huffing and puffing, it was just hard,” Marilyn Haugen says.

But Haugen says her daughter is what got her to quit.

"My daughter is in medical school in New York and one time I was out visiting her she said mom can you at least quit by the time I get my white coat,” Haugen says.

After 45 years, Haugen stopped smoking in January.

"I felt good, I can move better, it was easier to walk around and do things,” Haugen says.

Stories like Haugen’s success - is why UW-Madison’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention is launching the new study.

"If you're ready to quit, we'll be using the most effective counseling and medication treatments and comparing them head to head to see what's most effective in the clinic setting,” said Michael Fiore with UW-Madison's Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

“We know of the 700,000 smokers in Wisconsin if they don't successfully quit half of them will be killed by a disease directly caused by their smoking,” Fiore said.