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Tobacco-free contest kicks off next week

The Center for Community Health Promotion, also known as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Sunnyside is sponsoring a special contest to encourage smokers and users of smokeless tobacco to quit.

The Quit Tobacco & Win Contest will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The month-long contest is open to 100 individuals looking to quit smoking or chewing tobacco.

Participants need to be 18-years-old or older, and live in Yakima, Benton or Franklin counties.

There will be a questionnaire to fill out at the beginning of the contest, and a carbon monoxide breath test will be administered. The test involves blowing into a cardboard tube.

Throughout the contest there will be drawings for cash prizes and Wal-Mart gift cards, according to Monica Escareno, community program assistant.

She said a carbon monoxide test within 48 hours of each drawing will be administered. A score of six or lower will qualify each participant for the drawings.

Another rule of the contest involves providing the names of two individuals who can verify the contestant’s tobacco use status throughout the 30 days of the contest.

“There will be optional classes on tobacco and lung cancer during the contest,” said Escareno, who noted another option to help contestants quit using tobacco products will be a support session.

“The participants can talk about their experiences and offer support to one another,” Escareno said.

The contest ends on Feb. 14, during which time a final carbon monoxide test will be administered and another questionnaire must be completed. A final drawing will take place on that date.

Participants must complete a final follow-up questionnaire three months after the contest.

For added success in quitting tobacco use, the center is offering several tips for contestants. Suggestions include telling friends and family about the commitment to quit smoking or chewing tobacco, letting friends know how they can help, getting rid of cigarettes by wetting them before throwing them out and discarding ash trays.

When experiencing the urge to smoke, there are four “D’s” to remember: drink water, delay, take deep breaths and do something else.

Gum, hard candy and toothpicks are suggested substitutes for tobacco products.

Escareno said the goal of the contest is to help community members become tobacco free, preventing them from increased risk of cancer.

To register for the contest, call 837-6359 or 1-866-809-6846.

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