Global Contest Helps Smokers Kick the Habit
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smokers interested in winning up to $10,000 while gaining a few more years of life are kicking the habit as of May 2nd, the first day of the fourth international Quit and Win 2000 competition.
The global contest, which is coordinated by Finland's National Public Health Institute, encourages smokers to give up tobacco for at least 4 weeks. ``If they succeed, they not only stand a chance of breaking with smoking for good but also of winning a prize,'' said Eeva Riitta Vartiainen, campaign manager for Quit and Win 2000, in a statement issued by the group.
The competition will be launched from the city of Joensuu in Eastern Finland. Sixty thousand smokers participated in the first competition, which was held in 1994. This year, organizers expect up to a million participants from about 100 countries including Argentina, China, South Africa, and the US. Representatives from the World Health Organization, who are attending a conference in the area, will also join in festivities with Quit and Win competitors and members of various health promotion groups.
``One of the attractions will be a bonfire in which people can throw last cigarettes,'' said Vartiainen.
Quit and Win 2000 is open to smokers over 18 years of age who have smoked daily for at least one year. Participants will be able to use aids such as patches, gum and inhalers, but winners will undergo a laboratory test to ensure that they have successfully abstained from tobacco. In some countries nonsmokers can also participate in the competition, by recruiting at least one smoker.
Prizes will be decided upon by the individual countries. However, winners from each country will have the opportunity to participate in a drawing for one of six $2,500 regional prizes or the $10,000 international prize. Separate prizes will be drawn among the nonsmokers who support the campaign.
For those individuals who are worried about not being able to kick the habit for 4 weeks, the Quit and Win 2000 Web site offers the following tips:
-- Get rid of any temptation to smoke by throwing away cigarettes from jacket pockets, the car, etc.
-- Make a list of reasons for quitting and review it when confronted with the urge to smoke.
-- Tell friends and family that you plan to quit--''It's harder to start again when you have told so many people that you are quitting,'' the group notes.
-- Avoid situations when you might be tempted to smoke.
-- If you slip and smoke one cigarette, try again--''One cigarette didn't make you a smoker in the first place and one slip now doesn't mean you aren't a nonsmoker.''
The Quit and Win competition is supported by the World Health Organization, as well as commercial partners, such as Pharmacia & Upjohn and Glaxo Wellcome.
For more information contact the Quit and Win 2000 Web site at www.quitandwin.org.