NEW ORLEANS - It's one of the most powerful and deadly addictions, nicotine. And Louisiana has one of the highest rates of smoking.
But now you have the chance to join 8,000 others around the world to get free help to quit.
Back in January Casandra Spiers had just signed up for a worldwide study to stop smoking.
"As of 4 p.m. today, it will be day eight with no cigarette," she said back on January 5.
Today, she is still smoke free.
"The cravings did kind of go away. My sensations got a lot stronger. Even today when I'm around cigarette smoke, I'm, it really annoys me, the smell of it," she said.
Physically, emotionally and mentally, she feels like a new person and even with her loss of a leg from a motorcycle wreck, she has started to workout.
"My sense of taste, my sense of smell, is absolutely incredible. Other than that, I don't get as winded walking and stuff. I go to the gym, so it helps out," said Spiers.
Doctors are seeing positive results.
"Out of the 68 people that we've enrolled (in Metairie) to date, we have 60 percent who have completely stopped smoking, which we're really pleased about. We have 39 percent who have significantly cut down and I mean like 20 cigarettes to two, " said Dr. Eileen Palace who is directing the only site in Louisiana for the study.
"This study is using the three most effective FDA approved medications for smoking cessation, Chantix, Zyban and a nicotine patch, combined with cognitive behavior therapy. So it's really, truly a very thorough comprehensive mind body approach," Dr. Palace explained.
Patients get rewards and free medical exams. But to qualify, you have to want to quit.
"You really do have to be motivated and if you want to do this and you allow us and the therapy and the medication to be your aid, it's very successful. And the people are so proud of themselves," said Dr. Palace.
For some in the study, Hurricane Isaac made it hard to cope with not smoking. For Casandra, it's during Saints games that she thinks about smoking. But for the sake of her five grandchildren, she is not going back to lighting up.
Smokers who want to quit can still join the free study. You must be between 18 and 75 years old, smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day, and be motivated to quit. Call 504- 834-4500 to see if you qualify.