A contest encouraging smokers to quit was officially launched yesterday, with organizers announcing that contestants who succeed in kicking the habit within the specified time frame would qualify for the top prize of NT$600,000.
The “Quit and Win” campaign was organized by the Bureau of Health Promotion, in cooperation with the John Tung Foundation (JTF), as part of its effort to promote public health.
Chen Ying-chun (陳盈君), vice director of the foundation’s Tobacco Control Division, said that “many smokers are actually willing to quit this bad habit ... some 20,000 smokers are expected to sign up for the contest.”
Hsueh Kuang-chieh (薛光傑), the head of Kaohsiung Veterans’ General Hospital’s tobacco cessation clinic, said there are about 4.5 million smokers in Taiwan, representing about one-fifth of the nation’s population.
Hsueh said he hoped “the campaign would help them to stop smoking completely.”
Smoking-related problems cost the government some NT$30 billion (US$990 million) each year in health costs, Hsueh said, while advising smokers that “deep breathing, drinking cold water and doing body stretches will help to reduce the desire to smoke.”
“I am eager to quit smoking in order to fulfill the promise I made to myself and my family,” said one of the contestants surnamed Liu, who has been smoking for 28 years.
Liu, who recalled that he lit his first cigarette at the age of 15, said: “Quitting smoking would not only make me healthier, but would help me set a good example for my 18-year-old son who is also a smoker.”
A taxi driver surnamed Chu, who had been a smoker for 30 years before he quit last year, told the participants in the campaign that “a strong will and self-discipline are both crucial.”
“Since I quit smoking, neither my clients nor family members — and my daughter in particular — have complained about the bad smell,” Chu said. “I also feel much healthier than before.”
According to the rules of the contest, competitors must stop smoking for the period May 2 to May 29. After a medical evaluation and an assessment by the person supervising the contestants, the successful ones will qualify for the lucky draw.
“Come and join us and help to create a better and healthier life, “ said Chen, adding that the closing date for entries is May 1.
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