Quit smoking campaign attracts record number

  • 2000-05-11
  • By Anna Pridanova
RIGA - "Quit smoking and win!" urges the Health Promotion Center in the annual quit smoking campaign joined by more than 800 people this year - double last year's number - in Latvia.

Participants have undertaken not to smoke for a month - from May 2 to May 29, by signing a pledge, confirmed by a person who promises to monitor, but sometimes also to help and cheer up the applicant.

By the organizers' estimates, based on the previous two years' campaigns, one third of all participants will not start smoking again.

The deputy director of the Health Promotion Center, Aija Rituma, said "the participants through this campaign will acquire not only good health, but will also prove to themselves that they can refrain from smoking. But if they can abstain from it for some time, why should not they do it all the time? The third benefit is the chance to get the gifts every Friday in May," said Rituma.

There will be the drawings on two Latvian radio stations, with the grand winner's name drawn on May 31, the international anti-smoking day, Rituma said.

Besides a trip to Paris, the winner's name will be entered in European and world-scale drawings for $10,000 and $2,500 respectively.

The high interest in the campaign was caused by activities leading up to the May campaign, including activities during a year-long observance of heart health and teaching people risks to heart health, one of which is regular smoking.

A well-organized publicity campaign helped Latvian regions to be especially active in the campaign with Liepaja and Preili districts leading in numbers of participants.

The Latvian medics got special attention this year. The first 50 physicians and nurses trying to quit smoking were promised special therapy and monitoring from the pharmaceutics company Glaxo Wellcome. Rituma said that unfortunately, only about 40 medical professionals participated.

Still, one of them will get a very valuable prize - a trip to Joensu city in Finland next year to learn about the North Karelia project, centering on actions to prevent health risks. These include food production, education, different actions in the groceries.

To ensure an honest game in the smoking campaign, the winner of the top prize will be tested.

"First of all, the winner will be just asked whether he smoked during the campaign time, or not. Then we will ask his witness, and if he verifies success, we shall make an urine test to support his words," said Rituma.

The need for this campaign was stimulated by the latest smoking trends in Latvia.

"Every year more women start smoking," said Rituma. HPC statistics show 18.4 percent of women smoked every day in 1998 and 8.7 percent casually. But many active smokers are willing to quit smoking - more than 40 percent of both men and women.