The Bureau of Health Promotion’s quit smoking competition attracted more than 31,000 pairs this year and ended yesterday with a NT$300,000 cash prize being given to the winner.
The competition began on March 25 and required each team, which consisted of a non-smoker witness and a smoker contestant, to quit smoking for four weeks.
The first and second prize winners were randomly selected from the participants late last month. Visits and urine tests were conducted under the scrutiny of lawyers, to make sure the contestants had quit smoking.
The first prize this year was given to a 51-year-old man surnamed Lee (李), who lives in New Taipei City (新北市).
Lee said he had smoked for 34 years and used to smoke about a pack of cigarettes a day. He said that although he had tried to quit before, his job as a security guard working midnight shifts had made him unable to conquer his addiction.
“I promised my daughter that I would quit smoking, but the first week of quitting was really painful,” Lee said. “Fortunately, there was a change in my work routine at the time, which allowed my daily schedule to become more normal. I also drank a lot of water and ate more fruit and vegetables to help me get through the uncomfortable feeling during the first phase of quitting.”
According to a survey conducted by the bureau last year, the smoking rate among men was 33.5 percent, and more than 40 percent among young men aged between 26 and 45. The bureau added that the smoking rate among young people with education below junior-high school level was also very high: 73.5 percent in men and 24.7 percent in women.