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Quit to Win launch Sept. 4

Health officials unveil smokers' contest

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 30/02) - Looking to win a trip to Mexico or the Calgary Stampede? September 4th may be your chance to get a jump on the competition during the official launch of the smoking cessation contest, Quit to Win.

NNSL Photo

Hard Truth

- 42 per cent of Canadians 18 and older smoke (highest nation wide) - In small communities 65 per cent of NWT adults smoke

- 25 per cent of 10-14 year-olds in NWT smoke. 75 per cent of 15-17 year-olds do

- 12,000 people over 17 n the NWT smoke i

- NWT adults are twice as likely to become smokers compared to the rest of Canada

- 45 per cent of adults in the NWT smoke compared to the national average of 18 per cent

- 63 per cent of all aboriginal people smoke nationwide. 59 per cent of aboriginal people in the NWT smoke

- 1.1 billion people smoke world wide, about 1 in 3.

- Smoking results in three million deaths worldwide

- 25 per cent of deaths in the NWT between 1991 and 1996 were caused by smoking

- Smokers who quit by age 50 cut chances of premature death in half - Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine

- Smoking causes cancer in the lung, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas and cervix.

- Smoking is the leading cause of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease resulting in heart disease and stroke.

Rosella Stoesz, a spokesperson for Canadian Public Health, which is sponsoring the event, said it is an opportunity for Yellowknife smokers wanting to quit to gather information.

Great Slave MLA Bill Braden will attend the launch as a motivating force: he quit smoking a month ago.

Also in attendance at the launch will be local pharmacists who will have information on products to assist in the quit smoking process.

"They will have information on the gum, the patch and Zyban," said Stoesz.

Demonstrations by therapeutic massage therapists will be conducted to teach people relaxation techniques. Nutritionists will also be on hand to share pointers on good eating and dispel some myths surrounding quitting smoking and weight gain.

Other quit smoking techniques will be available through the Canadian Cancer Society, which will also be attending the launch.

Stoesz said the goal is to be as positive as possible. The program is not designed to preach to people or moralize smoking.

"We're targeting people who have a desire to quit smoking," she said.

The launch will be held in the parking lot of the Yellowknife Inn, if weather permits, otherwise it will be moved to the Centre Square Mall. All participants must enter with a buddy who will assist contestants in their drive to quit smoking.

The buddy will also be used to verify that contestant did not smoke for the allotted time period.

The winner will also be subjected to a lab test to verify their smoke free status.

Buddy system

Dr. Ross Wheeler smoked for 40 years.

After trying to quit 10 times he finally found the strategy that helped him kick the habit and stay smoke free for the past five years.

"I quit with someone else and that was the key. We were able to help each other quit together," said Wheeler.

"The hardest part was the physical cravings that went on for quite a while."

He describes quitting as difficult and the support of quitting with someone helps take the pressure off.

"Don't do it alone. Talk about it, don't deny the cravings," he said.

Wheeler is on the advisory board for the Quit to Win contest and he is hoping the contest will help motivate people to quit. He is optimistic that since the contest uses a buddy system it will be effective.

As well there are a lot of medical aids available now that weren't five years ago that Wheeler said can help.

What's most important to remember, he added, is quitting improves your health.

"If it doesn't work, try again," he said.

Who can enter

The contest is targeting teens and adults who have a desire to quit.

Participating teens (15-18) are eligible for a trip for two to the Calgary Stampede held the first week of July. Adults (19 and older) are eligible to win a trip for two to Mexico.

To enter you must be a daily smoker who has smoked for at least a year.

This is the first year the contest has been run in the NWT.

However, it has been going on down south for a number of years.

"We just thought it was something that was needed," said Stoesz. She added that whether this will become an annual event has not been determined.

"We haven't thought that far ahead," she said.