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Quit-smoking contest offers chance to get healthy and win a car

SIMCOE, JAN. 26, 2007 – If you can quit smoking for one month, you could win a 2007 Acura CSX automobile.

That’s the grand prize offered in this year’s “Driven to Quit Challenge” being promoted by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

The cancer society, which is urging people to “kick butt together” by joining the province-wide contest, is also offering seven 32-inch widescreen LCD television sets as prizes.

“In fact, everybody who participates is a winner,” said Fiaza Siddiqi, Health Promoter, Population Health, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, “The health benefits of quitting are immediate, regardless of how long you’ve been using tobacco products.”

To enter the contest, people must be at least 19 years of age and currently using a tobacco product daily, 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.

Registration is now open at website www.driventoquit.ca and the deadline for entry is Feb. 28. People may also contact the Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333. The draw takes place March 30 with the prizes given out on April 30. Last year 277 smokers in Haldimand and Norfolk signed up.

Participants are allowed to use aids to help them butt out, including nicotine replacement therapies, such as the patch or gum.

“The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit offers counselling and tips to support smokers in their efforts to quit smoking,” Siddiqi said, “and we encourage smokers who want to enter the contest to contact us for this assistance. We know how tough it can be to quit smoking. We’re ready to help.”

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

Smokers go through a number of stages on their way to quitting for good. These include starting to think about quitting, getting ready and planning to quit, quitting, and maintaining a smoke-free status. Most smokers try a number of times before they succeed.

If you’re ready to quit smoking, start by creating a plan to quit, set realistic expectations and prepare yourself to avoid triggers to smoke. Find out ways to become more active and eat healthier. Ask your family and friends for support. Consult with your doctor and pharmacist about the nicotine patch or gum.

“Participating in the Driven to Quit Challenge presents an ideal opportunity to become motivated and get this process started,” Siddiqi pointed out.

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.

About 20,000 of Ontario’s 1.6 million residents are expected to enter the Driven to Quit Challenge, which is receiving funding support from Ontario’s Ministry of Health Promotion. Corporate sponsor Johnson & Johnson Inc. is donating the car.

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