Friday, August 03, 2001

Smokers, chewers! Give up tobacco, win cash prizes

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Health officials in the heart of tobacco country are offering cash prizes to cigarette smokers who can kick the habit.

        Smokers who quit smoking from Sept. 10 through Oct. 9 will have a chance to win a grand prize of $2,500 or one of five $500 awards through a contest announced by the Fayette County Health Department.

        Health departments in Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Franklin, Jessamine, Woodford, Lincoln and Madison counties also are sponsoring the program, called “Bluegrass Quit and Win 2001.”

        The promotion is open to anyone age 18 or older statewide who smokes cigarettes, cigars or pipes, or uses snuff or chewing tobacco. The names of those who quit for the entire month will be entered in a drawing for the money.

        Health officials will offer assistance, including counseling, to help participants resist the lure of tobacco as the contest progresses, said Todd Warnick, Fayette County Health Department's tobacco-use cessation director.

        Each smoker must name a non-tobacco-using “buddy” to document that he or she actually has gone tobacco-free. Participants also must submit an entry form, providing information about their tobacco use.

        Starting Sept. 10, users will try to put aside their tobacco for a month. Each participant's buddy then must validate he or she did not use tobacco during that time.

        Similar events offering cash for quitting have been used successfully in Canada and a few places in the United States although the model originated in Europe. Mr. Warnick said the local program potentially could be the biggest such contest yet in this country because it will cover such a wide area.

        Recent surveys show that about a fourth of Fayette County adults smoke, and roughly half think they are addicted to tobacco, Mr. Warnick said


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