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contests, incentives, smoking cessation



  1. O'Connor, Richard PhD
  2. Fix, Brian MA
  3. Celestino, Paula BS
  4. Carlin-Menter, Shannon EdM, MS
  5. Hyland, Andrew PhD
  6. Cummings, K. Michael PhD, MPH


In an effort footline to motivate smokers across New York State to stop smoking, tobacco control programs across the state held 'Quit and Win' incentive-based stop-smoking contests. These contests encouraged smokers to make a quit attempt by offering a chance to win cash prize (usually $1,000) for successfully stopping smoking for at least 1 month. Between 2001 and 2004, 11 different Quit and Win Contests involving 5,504 adult smokers were sponsored in different communities across New York State. Follow-up surveys were conducted 4 to 6 months after each contest ended to evaluate participants' success in quitting smoking. Expenditures for promoting contests varied from a high of $91,441 to a low of $4,345, with a median of $25,928. An average of 0.55 percent of smokers was recruited to join contests across the 11 communities. Among smokers who enrolled in a contest, 9 out of 10 reported making a quit attempt, and between 53 percent and 72 percent reported quitting for the full month of the contest. At 4 to 6 months follow-up, self-reported quit rates (7-day point prevalence) among contestants ranged from 22 percent to 49 percent, with an average of 31 percent. Based on a statewide population survey, 8 of the 11 programs showed quit rates that were significantly higher (P < .001 by Wilcoxon rank-sum test) than the estimated quit rate of 21 percent seen among smokers making a quit attempt in the past year. This study shows that for a relatively modest investment of resources, thousands of smokers can be recruited to make a serious quit attempt, with many remaining smoke-free months later.