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More entries urged as 134 residents join quit-smoking contest

SIMCOE, ON, FEB. 16, 2007 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is urging local smokers to hurry up if they want to quit smoking and win a new car by entering the “Driven to Quit Challenge.”

Deadline for the province-wide contest, jointly sponsored by Ontario’s Health Units and the Canadian Cancer Society, is Feb. 28.

“We’re into the final stage of the entry phase and we have 134 Haldimand and Norfolk residents signed up,” said Fiaza Siddiqi, Health Promoter, Population Health, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, “but time is running out, so those interested should enter now.”

Local residents who can quit smoking for one month are eligible to win the grand prize of a 2007 Acura CSX automobile or one of several 32-inch widescreen LCD television sets.

Last year 277 smokers in Haldimand and Norfolk signed up for the contest.

To enter the contest, people must be at least 19 years of age and currently using tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco or snuff. Contest participants must enlist a non-smoking buddy for support and remain smoke-free for the month of March to have their names entered in a draw for the prizes. The buddy must confirm the smoker gave up the habit and potential prize winners must take a urine test to prove they didn’t smoke. The buddy is also eligible to win a $250 Sears gift certificate.

People can register by Feb. 28 at website www.driventoquit.ca or can call Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333. The draw takes place March 30 with the prizes given out on April 30.

Participants are allowed to use aids to help them butt out, including nicotine replacement therapies, such as the patch or gum. Siddiqi is encouraging smokers who want support to contact the Health Unit, which offers resources and tips to assist people in their efforts to quit smoking.

“We’re here to help,” she said. “It’s tough to quit smoking and this contest is the ideal opportunity for those who have been thinking about quitting to actually take the plunge. Everyone is a winner even if you don’t win a prize. In fact, your body starts healing the minute you stop smoking.”

Smokers seeking support may contact the Health Unit at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3248.

The quit-smoking campaign is also doing well provincially, noted Peter Goodhand, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division.

More than 14,000 people had registered by mid-February. About 25,000 of Ontario’s 1.6 million residents are expected to enter by the Feb. 28 deadline.

“We’ve had a great response so far with the amount of people registering for this year’s challenge,” he said. “This is a direct result of the collaboration between the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Public Health Units along with the support of the Ministry of Health Promotion.”

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disability in Canada. About 24% of Haldimand and Norfolk residents 12 and over are daily smokers, compared to 21 per cent in Ontario as a whole, according to the Canadian Community Health Survey 2000/2001.

Media contact information:
Fiaza Siddiqi, Health Promoter, Population Health, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
519-426-6170 Ext. 3248