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Lawmaker tries for statewide smoking ban again

In 2010, a smoker puffs on a cigarette in Valparaiso. St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart is participating in a national trial to determine the most effective ways to quit smoking.

A Region hospital is taking part in a national trial to determine the most effective ways to quit smoking.

St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart is one of 18 hospitals nationwide, and the only from Northwest Indiana, in the study, which is being conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York University Langone Health and the Lung Cancer Alliance Screening Centers of Excellence Network.

The trial aims to find out the best smoking-cessation techniques to be given along with lung cancer screenings.

St. Mary CEO Janice Ryba notes that many Northwest Indiana communities have above-average smoking rates, which her hospital tries to address through education, screening and the latest in treatment, including minimally invasive robotic surgery.

“The Centers for Disease Control reports that between 80 and 90 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses result from smoking,” she stated. “Tobacco cessation remains one of our most important tools in the fight against lung cancer."

The smoking rates for Northwest Indiana are 18 percent for Lake County, 19 percent for Porter County and 23 percent for LaPorte County, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The state average is 21 percent, while the national average is 16 percent.

Lung cancer screenings are generally recommended for adults between the ages of 55 and 77 who are current smokers or have quit in the past 15 years and smoked a pack a day for at least 30 years or two packs a day for at least 15 years, the hospital said.

Roxanne Karnes, cancer care services for St. Mary, pointed out that participation in the trial could help current smokers stop.

“For people who don’t quit altogether, even a reduction in smoking can bring health benefits and can lead to cessation in the future,” she stated.

The total time commitment for the study, called the Cessation and Screening to Save Lives Trial, is about two hours over a six-month period. Participants are randomly assigned to different smoking cessation programs that may include medication. They do one survey at the beginning and follow-up ones, by phone or email, at three and six months.

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.