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NEWS RELEASE · 4th December 2009
Northern Health
Quitting smoking is easier with support from on-line contest

QuitNow & WIN, the contest that successfully convinced more than 7,000 British Columbians to sign up to quit smoking last year, is back. The contest encourages smokers to turn to a buddy for encouragement, register online for support, and have the chance to win prizes totalling more than $20,000, provided by corporate sponsor McNeil Consumer Healthcare Canada.

“The contest inspired me,” said Pamela Wray of Fort St. John, last year’s winner in the Northern Health Authority. “It motivated me to really quit and maybe win, which I did. Since quitting smoking, I have more energy, higher self-esteem and, as a bonus, more money.” “In the Northern region, more than 57,000 people smoke; basically 22 per cent of our population,” said Dr. David Bowering, Chief Medical Officer of Northern Health. “The North has the highest smoking rate in the province, which means we need to make improvements. Smokers are at risk for many diseases, including lung cancer, emphysema, and coronary heart disease.”

“QuitNow & WIN had a very successful first year, and I am very excited that we can help more British Columbians go tobacco-free this year,” said Ida Chong, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport. “I am a big fan of this contest because everyone who participates in it is a winner. It provides great prize incentives for people to sign up, but the whole philosophy behind QuitNow & WIN is that participants help each other ‘cross the finish line’ and reach the first goal of going five weeks without using tobacco.”

QuitNow & WIN is an online contest that uses a combination of traditional and social media supports to help people quit smoking. Participants sign up with a ‘buddy’ who provides friendly encouragement and they can use QuitNow by Phone (1-877-455-2233), a free telephone-based counselling program available 24/7 in over 130 languages.

Participants can sign up for supportive emails, text messages, Twitter “tweets” and Facebook updates. They can also join online support groups on www.quitnow.ca, an Internet based quit smoking service that offers individualized programs to participants – anytime and anyplace. Hosted by the BC Lung Association through grant funding for tobacco cessation services provided by the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, the QuitNow & WIN contest is supported by ActNow BC.

“Based on last year’s success, at least 3,000 contestants quit for a minimum of three months and we expect even great numbers this year,” said Scott McDonald, Executive Director for the BC Lung Association. “That’s an amazing statistic. I think the combination of personal encouragement from their buddies and the structured support available by phone and online explains that high success rate.”

Lung disease is the fastest growing cause of hospitalization, disability and death in Canada. Tobacco use is the main cause of lung disease, and the key risk factor that can be eliminated.