Professor uses grant to help smokers quit

Courtesy Photo. Pharmacy professor Jamie McConaha
Courtesy Photo. Pharmacy professor Jamie McConaha
Courtesy Photo. Pharmacy professor Jamie McConaha

Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke

A Duquesne professor recently received a $4,000 grant to continue her efforts to help local smokers quit.

Tobacco Free Allegheny, whose goal is to eliminate tobacco use in the county, awarded the grant to Jamie McConaha, an assistant pharmacy professor.

McConaha hosts a four-week group class to assist tobacco users in fighting their addiction. The class, called “Courage to Quit,” is for people who use any type of tobacco, including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, according to McConaha.

McConaha is using the grant, which was awarded to her on April 15, to expand her class to locations in Bethel Park, Wilkins Township and the Hill District.

“We had been looking for some new cessation providers,” Tobacco Free Allegheny program assistant Brittany Huffman said. “We liked the program that she worked with and got in touch with her to see if she was available and interested.”

Allegheny County has a high smoking rate at 23 percent compared to the statewide smoking rate of 21 percent, according to Huffman.

“It’s important that we’re addressing cessation in the county … especially with disparate populations,” Huffman said.

According to Huffman, poorer Allegheny residents are more likely to be harmed by tobacco use, “and we wanted to be able to reach out to them and make services available to them.”

McConaha believes this grant will allow the class to take in more participants and assist with their tobacco addictions.

“Tobacco Free Allegheny has been a big supporter of Duquesne’s tobacco cessation efforts,” McConaha said. “They have awarded this grant which helps to expand the offerings of the Courage to Quit class and enables us to reach more patients in more diverse neighborhoods.”

This is not the first grant McConaha has received for her “Courage to Quit” classes. In the summer of 2014, McConaha received a $10,000 grant from Pfizer, Inc., according to the Duquesne Times.

Staff Writer Kayla Casavant contributed reporting.