March 23, 2005

Forty-one year smoker butts out to win Quit Smoking 2005 contest

NEWMARKET – York Region Health Services congratulates all entrants from York Region for “butting out” and entering in the 2005 Quit Smoking contest.
York Region Health Services supported this year’s contest by distributing promotional material to workplaces and residents in York Region to encourage smokers to quit smoking.
This year’s contest was launched in December and encouraged smokers to begin planning for a February 1st quit date.  Each smoker had to sign up a non-smoking buddy to support them through the tough times in the quitting process.  A potential grand prize winner and regional winners were chosen by random draw and their smoke-free status verified by a urine test.
Butting out 41 years after getting hooked on smoking has earned Ron Herd of Wingham, Ontario a sparkling new Ford Mustang, the grand prize in the Ontario Quit Smoking 2005 contest.
Mr. Herd, 55, was among more than 19,000 adult daily smokers across Ontario who entered the contest and quit for the month of February and, he says, “for good”.
“I just made up my mind I was going to do it this time,” Mr. Herd said.  “My son is getting married in September and I told him I’d win the car so he could use it on his wedding day.  I’ll never put another cigarette in my mouth.”
Tanya Kulnies, Chair of the provincial Quit Smoking Contest 2005 planning team, said the contest has proven to be a fantastic incentive for smokers who are thinking about quitting.
“The number of smokers entering the contest has risen every year and the number of smokers in the province has continued to drop.  We don’t think that’s a coincidence.  The vast majority of smokers will tell you they want to quit.  The contest gives them a quit date and helps them build a support system to succeed.”
Along with Mr. Herd, seven regional quitters have won surround sound home theatre systems.  They include Paul Nagy of  Orleans, Joe Pellegrino of Mississauga, Ann-Louise Neumeyer-Rauch of Scarborough, Marshall Marion of Penetanguishene, Cindy Lannigan of Sault Ste. Marie, Robin Matteis of Leamington, and Trevor Brown of Beamsville.  The buddy of each winner receives $250 in cash.
“This contest is the only provincial initiative of its kind that encourages smokers to take the step from intention to action,” said Kulnies.  “It’s so easy to take up the smoking habit and so tough to quit.  We applaud everyone who has tried. If you haven’t been successful yet, try again.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or health care provider about products and services that can help you succeed.”
Contest data shows that smokers entering the 2005 contest were almost equally split between men and women.  On average, participants had been smoking about 18 cigarettes a day for about 20 years.  Among previous contest participants, research shows 30 per cent of smokers who stayed smoke free for the quit month were still smoke free one year later.                       
 The Quit Smoking 2005 Contest was funded in part by Health Canada, and supported by more than 60 local councils on smoking and health and public health units throughout Ontario with sponsorship provided by Pfizer Canada Inc., Pfizer Consumer Healthcare Division, the Industrial Accident Prevention Association, Ontario Smokers’ Helpline, Ontario Dental Hygienists Association, Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, Ontario Dental Nurses and Assistants Association and the Association of Local Public Health Agencies.
Contact:   Sandra Crescenzi, York Region Health Services
(905) 830-4444 ext. 4195

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