“Quit & Win” Contest 1-Year Later

Local smokers are evaluated after participation in incentive-based contest

Charleston, S.C. (Nov. 17, 2016) – Last year at this time, the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Hollings Cancer Center, the Post & Courier, and community partners teamed up to sponsor “Quit & Win”, a contest developed to incentivize smokers to make a quit attempt. Adult smokers were encouraged to stop smoking for one month beginning January 15th in order to be eligible for one of two $1,000 cash prizes in a random drawing.

The contest was announced in November 2015 in an effort to align with the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout (GASO), a national initiative used to encourage smokers to quit.

Five hundred and forty eight adult smokers registered for the contest, representing about 0.5% of all smokers in the tri-county region, according to Dr. Michael Cummings, co-leader of the Hollings Cancer Center Tobacco Research Program. In February, two winners, Charles Smith of Summerville and James Paladino of Mount Pleasant, both pack-a-day smokers who stopped smoking, were randomly selected from the pool of contestants to receive the cash prize.

MUSC recently conducted a survey of the Quit & Win contestants evaluating their quit attempts and current smoking status’.

“On this the day of the 41st Annual GASO, we thought it would be fitting to release the results of our follow-up survey of Quit & Win contestants,” said Dr. Cummings.

According to Cummings, the survey collected information from 239 of the 548 contestants. The characteristics of those who responded to the survey are as follows:

Average Demographics

  • Age: 43 years
  • Gender: 69.4% female
  • Years of smoking: 23 years
  • Amount smoked: 16 cigarettes per day

Smoking Behavior (of 239 survey participants)

  • 94.9% made an attempt to stop smoking during the contest
  • 37.2% quit for the entire period of the contest
  • 34.7% were no longer smoking about 6 months after the contest

We also asked those who made a quit attempt, what if anything they did to get help to stop smoking. Here is what the contestants told us:

Methods Used to Quit Smoking (of 227 survey participants who reported making a quit attempt)

  • 18.9% said they did nothing special to try to quit
  • 3.1% said they went to a stop smoking class
  • 16.7% said they contacted the SC Quit Line
  • 34.4% said they used an electronic cigarette
  • 35.7% said they went to a website and/or used an a phone app to get information to help them stop smoking
  • 50.2% said they used an FDA approved stop smoking medication (i.e., nicotine patch, gum lozenge and/or prescription Zyban or Chantix)

“Looking back, I would say the contest was a success,” said Dr. Cummings. The contest recruited several hundred smokers to make a quit attempt, about 1/3rd who successfully stopped smoking. The contest also publicized the South Carolina toll-free Quit Line (800-784-8669) where eligible smokers have access to free stop smoking medications.

Those seeking help to stop smoking can contact the MUSC Tobacco Treatment Program at 843-792-9101 or visit our website at: muschealth.org/medical-services/tobacco-treatment-program.

K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., M.P.H.

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