Smoking Cessation Program

You know all the reasons why you should quit smoking. Perhaps you’ve already tried to quit, but you’re not there yet. Did you know that the more resources and support you use, the greater your chance of succeeding?

“Seventy percent of smokers want to quit,” said Medical College of Wisconsin pulmonologist and obstructive lung diseases specialist Ileen Gilbert, MD. Dr. Gilbert, an expert in tobacco use and smoking cessation, directs the outpatient Smoking Cessation Program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“To be successful, smokers need to avail themselves of all valid, evidence-based resources and tailor a plan that works best for them,” Dr. Gilbert said. “Many resources, including the Smoking Cessation Program, are available to help them.

“Smoking is a chronic illness that involves both a physical addiction and a powerful emotional addiction. To quit, both types of addictions as well as other issues need to be addressed.”

Three-Pronged Approach to Smoking Cessation

The Smoking Cessation Program offers a comprehensive and personalized approach to smoking cessation, with a three-pronged approach that involves education, counseling and medical management. All treatment is based on proven medical research.

  • Education — program participants receive a wealth of information about the addiction of smoking and health conditions that are worsened by smoking. People also learn tips to help prevent weight gain. Staff help people identify the best techniques for dealing with their addiction.
  • Counseling — Medical College of Wisconsin students and medical residents who are trained to provide smoking cessation counseling work with Dr. Gilbert and respiratory therapists to provide a one-on-one intervention with patients to address the behavioral aspects of smoking. They help people identify and overcome potential roadblocks to successful quitting. 
  • Medical management — most people who are addicted to cigarettes need medication in addition to counseling and education to quit smoking. Medical management involves assessing lung function, treating lung damage from smoking and providing nicotine replacement/addiction therapies.

“Many smokers don’t realize that they may have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, the two forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD,” Dr. Gilbert said. “A person could lose some lung function and not have any symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, the person could lose half of his or her lung function. We measure lung function to let people know if they have any damage from smoking.”

Treatment for COPD may include medication and/or referral to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

To help with the physical aspects of nicotine addiction, over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., gum, patches and lozenges) may be recommended. Prescription therapies such as nicotine inhalers and nicotine nasal sprays may be used. In addition, medicine that interrupts the biochemical basis for smoking addiction may also be prescribed.

“We determine the most appropriate medical treatment for each person, and help people understand how to properly use these products,” Dr. Gilbert said. “To give people a head start, we can provide some of these medications when they come here.

“We see people in the program every four to six weeks, until we believe we have helped them to be successful quitters. Then we spread the visits out to every three or six months. Because people are at risk for returning to smoking during the 12 months, we follow their progress for a year.”

Since its start in 2005, the program has helped many smokers to quit.

“Smokers who try to quit by themselves, without any resources or support, have a 5 percent overall quit rate,” Dr. Gilbert said. “Those who go through a smoking cessation program have a 20 percent to 25 percent success rate. Smokers who go through our program have a success rate in the 40 percent range.”

Smoking Cessation Locations

The Smoking Cessation Program has sites at:

  • Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin (Pavilion Building)
  • Lisbon Avenue Health Center, 3522 W. Lisbon Ave.
  • Clinica Latina, 1238 S. 16th St.
  • Columbia St. Mary’s Family Health Center, 1121 E. North Ave.

To get started with the Smoking Cessation Program, call Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin at 414-805-3666 or 800-272-3666. A referral is not needed, unless your insurance plan requires a primary care doctor referral.

Smoking Cessation Resources

Additional resources to help smokers quit include:

  • Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line — this statewide resource offers smokers free, live, individual phone counseling sessions from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Visit for details, or call 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) to get started. People who call the Quit Line may request a free two-week starter kit that includes information about quitting methods, medications and other tips. Studies show that providing medication in addition to quit line coaching is a cost-effective way to help many smokers in their attempt to quit. 
  • American Lung Association — the American Lung Association offers a number of resources to help people quit smoking:
  • Exercise — according to Dr. Gilbert, exercise is an important part of a smoking cessation program. Exercise increases the endorphin levels in the brain, which can help moderate nicotine withdrawal and cravings. Exercise also provides an excellent alternative to lighting up a cigarette. 
  • Family, friends and coworkers — people who want to quit smoking can benefit from the support and encouragement of those closest to them.


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