$2.6 Million Grant to Help Young Smokers Quit

University Researchers Collaborate to Provide Support for Smoking Cessation

Most college students want to quit smoking, according to College Tobacco Prevention Resource, but nearly two-thirds of all college smokers have a difficult time trying.

A $2.6 million National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant awarded to the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) will allow researchers from the University of Rochester to team up to find effective ways to help young smokers beat the tobacco addiction. The study, which also involves faculty from the Warner School of Education, will recruit approximately 1,500 smokers attending community colleges across New York State.

Scott McIntosh, PhD, associate professor of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Deborah Ossip, PhD, director of Community Preventive Medicine’s Smoking Research Program, will be working with Andrew Wall, PhD, assistant professor in educational leadership at the Warner School, and others to carry out all phases of the five-year grant, which began this fall and continues through June 2016.

The goal of the study is to translate evidence-based interventions in community cancer prevention and control, and to investigate novel web-based delivery of these interventions to reduce the number of community college students who smoke. Very little is known about smoking and successful quitting strategies among community college students. Participants will be followed during and after the intervention phase to assess quitting and successful strategies. The Smoking Research Program has identified a pool of 22 community colleges for participation.
Andrew Wall
Wall, co-investigator on the study who brings experience in higher education research and expertise on substance abuse, specifically web-based delivery of interventions, says tobacco use is a matter of life and death.

“One of the many reasons we think this study is so important is that tobacco use remains one of the leading causes of cancer and preventable death,” says Wall. “By targeting community college students, who have a higher smoking rate than their peers at other higher education institutions, we are hoping to catch people when they are young to help them stop smoking.”

In addition to the web-based interventions and follow-up, the key to the study’s success will be strong interest in the novelty of using internet-based strategies and resources.

“If community college students have increasing access to the internet, both on and off campus, and the internet capabilities for reach and ease-of-use keep expanding, there is a better chance for smokers to access the right kind of support and resources,” explains Scott McIntosh, principal investigator of the study.

URMC researchers will collaborate with Wall, who will tap into his current relationships with community colleges and prior experiences of conducting research among community colleges, to design intervention strategies and tools, collect data, and deliver intervention through less traditional outlets, such as various combinations of web-based features and strategies. Wall also will help lead the quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses.

Wall’s own research centers on college student health and how health impacts learning. He has been the primary investigator on grant projects that examine alcohol abuse prevention. The NIC-funded study will be an extension of his previous work on alcohol education with college students, allowing him to focus on health more broadly and holistically.

Physicians interested in free, brief, office training and materials for intervention and referral with smokers can call (585) 275-0598. For smokers interested in quitting now, or finding out about local and state resources, call 866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487), or go online at www.nysmokefree.com.

Tags: Andrew Wall, educational leadership, higher education, research, substance abuse