In April 2022, the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI) celebrated 30 years of helping people quit tobacco use.
Founded by Drs. Michael Fiore and Timothy Baker, UW-CTRI is nationally recognized for its ground-breaking tobacco research that is translated into tobacco treatment. UW-CTRI staff gathered at the Pyle Center in Madison, Wisconsin to celebrate.
UW-CTRI conducts tobacco research in its own labs in Madison and Milwaukee as well as in healthcare clinics throughout Wisconsin. Beyond studying ways to improve treatments, other studies at UW-CTRI are looking at how to improve the effectiveness of community, state and national responses to reduce the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of smoking.
UW-CTRI also provides services to thousands of Wisconsin residents through the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line, which offers free coaching to anyone anywhere in Wisconsin 24/7, supported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Since the launch of UW-CTRI’s Outreach Program in 2001 as part of a comprehensive, statewide tobacco control program, UW-CTRI outreach specialists have worked with virtually every healthcare system and insurer – as well as thousands of clinics and dozens of hospitals across Wisconsin.
UW-CTRI Co-Research Director Dr. Tim Baker greeted staff to the 30th anniversary celebration at the Pyle Center in Madison via video. He said he’s proud that UW-CTRI has helped so many patients to quit smoking.
“What gives me the greatest satisfaction as I look back on my career at UW-CTRI is how so many people came together and worked so well, so productively, and so harmoniously in the pursuit of a terribly important cause,” Baker said. “It gives me great satisfaction to realize that this group will continue to make signal contributions to our understanding and treatment of tobacco use when I am lying on the beach soaking up the rays at Cote d’Azur, video chatting with Mike who I hear will be on the Amalfi Coast! Well done, people!”
- Published more than 500 research articles.
- Helped more than 250,000 smokers in their quests to quit via research studies and the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line.
- Assisted approximately 56,864 research participants in direct clinical trials.
- Generated more than $172 million in grant funding.
- Trained approximately 50,000 healthcare practitioners.
- Become a go-to source for journalists, placing more than 5,000 news articles and public service messages in outlets such as Voice of America, AARP Bulletin, Yahoo News, NBC News, CNN, WebMD, Medscape, Vogue, Reuters, Associated Press, Mirror UK, India Times, Salon.com, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and PBS reaching an estimated 3.4 billion news consumers worldwide.
- Created the No. 1 Web site for “tobacco research” and “quit line” listed on Google.
- Changed the way healthcare systems approach tobacco treatment.
Some of the Center’s top achievements include:
- Being a driving force to institute tobacco use as a standard vital sign for all patients.
- Contributing a chapter on policy to the US Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking Cessation (2020).
- Chairing the US Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. (2000 and 2008)
- Leading to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ National Action Plan to reduce tobacco dependence. This led to the nationwide tobacco cessation quitline network available in any state at 800-QUIT-NOW.
- Researching key quit-tobacco counseling strategies and medications, such as bupropion and varenicline.
- Conducting ground-breaking research in areas such as tobacco dependence, cessation, and genetics.
- Working on systems change such as incorporation of tobacco treatment into healthcare settings, including electronic health records.
- Creating and managing the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line since its launch in 2001. The Quit Line is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
- Assisting with passing a workplace smoking ban in Madison and then statewide in Wisconsin.
- Helping behavioral health patients quit tobacco use. Assisted with augmenting DHS Section 75 to clear the way for recovery centers in Wisconsin to go smoke free and to screen and treat patients solely for tobacco use disorder.
- Working with disadvantaged populations to counter health disparities, foster equity and help people quit smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco.
“We’re proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to help so many people to break free of tobacco addiction and its related harms,” said Fiore, UW-CTRI’s director since inception. “Not only does this help them, but it spares their kids, spouses, grandkids, friends, and loved ones from harm and grief. This, to me, is the definition of success, and I’m proud we’ve been able to sustain that for three decades.”