Feb. 1, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 5




Cash for quitters:

UTHSC study may prove it really pays to quit smoking


Anyone who has tried to kick the habit knows it's hard — very few people can simply snuff out smoking. But Dr. Richard Lamb, associate professor in the department of psychiatry, has developed a new way to wean smokers from their fix — and it comes with cash.

Dr. Lamb is recruiting about 200 people who are not trying to quit smoking for his cessation study. Participants must be at least 18 years old and smoke a pack or more a day. Volunteers will meet with Dr. Lamb and his staff for approximately five minutes a day, Monday through Friday for three months.


Volunteers will receive $1 a day for participating, and can earn additional cash bonuses for reducing their smoking. It is part of a "behavior shaping" process that encourages smokers to quit by offering incentives.

"Most smoking cessation programs set complete and prolonged abstinence as the immediate goal. We're trying to determine if bringing shorter periods of abstinence in contact with incentives can help us develop longer periods of abstinence," Dr. Lamb said. "This process will inevitably lead people to reduce smoking if they want to earn all the bonuses that are available."

While cash works for this study, Dr. Lamb said other incentives could be just as effective. "Everyone has a different incentive to quit smoking," Dr. Lamb said. "We used cash because it's easy for us to deliver in a consistent manner."

To participate, contact Dr. Lamb's staff at ext. 7-5417.

Watch for oral cancer

About 30,000 Americans each year are affected by oral cancer. Smoking, combined with heavy alcohol intake, is the primary risk factor for oral cancer. Surprisingly, a quarter of the cases are in people who do not use tobacco or alcohol. Take control of your oral health by watching for signs of the disease that kills one American every hour.

Warning signs include:

  • A sore that bleeds easily or does not heal
  • A color change in oral tissue
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips