1995 OPEN FORUM Abstracts
Preliminary Evaluation Of A Community Quit & Win Smoking Cessation Program
Tim Blanchette MS. RRT Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME
Introduction: Quit and Win smoking cessation contests have been conducted in businesses, communities, states and even entire countries as effective mass-reach smoking cessation strategies. Most individuals quit smoking on their own, are unwilling to attend group clinics but are willing to participate in minimal contact programs. This is such a program.
Methods: Our respiratory care department organized a community coalition and developed plans for implementing a mass-reach Quit Smoking and Win lottery in the Portland, Maine vicinity (area pop: 166,200 - 27% smokers). Essentially, current smokers who registered for the program and quit smoking for five weeks were eligible for cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100 via a lottery. Their "helpers" were also eligible for prizes. A small grant, local businesses, and organizations provided funding for prizes and Maine Medical Center provided other "in kind" contributions. All participants were professed smokers (> 5 cigarettes/day) with "helpers" to verify their smoking status and help them quit. All participants were required to quit smoking by February 14, 1995 and remain nonsmokers until the first day of spring (~5 weeks). Program publicity through a limited mass media campaign, posters, and brochures primarily in hospitals and businesses began in early January. Registration forms were available at local pharmacies and a college fitness center. Anyone quitting after January 1, 1995 was eligible for the contest as long as they maintained abstinence through the five week quit period ending March 20. Upon registration, all registrants were sent a Quit Kit with self-help smoking cessation booklets (one for quitter, one for helper) and a letter noting local cessation resources. Two additional letters of encouragement with "quit tips" and further information were sent to participants during the 5 week quit period. In order to verify their non-smoking status and be eligible for prizes, registrants were required to appear for an exhaled CO test a few days prior to the program finale. Three, six, and twelve month followups are planned.
Results: One hundred seventy-six Portland area smokers (with helpers) registered for the Quit and Win program. There were 69 male and 107 female contestants ranging in age from 14 - 69 years. Mean age was 38.1±10.5 years. Sixty participants (37 female, 23 male or 34% of registrants) stopped smoking for the five required weeks and were eligible for prizes. At the program's conclusion, all successful quitters completed program questionnaires. 78% felt the program encouraged them to quit smoking, though 73% said they would have quit even without the program. Successful quitters provided much positive feedback and all felt the Quit & Win program was worthwhile for them.
Conclusions: Quit and Win campaigns can be coordinated through respiratory care departments and reach larger numbers of smokers than conventional smoking cessation techniques. It is difficult to determine if the contest increased the background smoking cessation rate but short term quit rates were impressive and the program provided public relations benefits for the hospital.