Students pledge to "Leave The Pack Behind"

TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - To kick-off National Non-Smoking Week, thousands of University and College students from across the province are pledging to quit smoking, reduce their smoking, or stay smoke-free in the wouldurather... contest put on by Leave The Pack Behind (LTPB).

Now in its 11th year, wouldurather..., funded by the Government of Ontario with generous prize support from Pfizer Canada, aims to motivate students to achieve their health goals. The contest is designed to create a community of support as students work to become smoke-free, and is proven to more than double smokers' chances of quitting.

Ontario post-secondary students can enter one of four categories specifically tailored to the smoking behaviours of young adults. Students can register to: quit; reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke by 50%; refrain from smoking when they drink alcohol; or just not start smoking for six weeks. In addition to a $1000 grand prize awarded to a student who "Quits For Good,' students can win cash, tuition waivers, and other great prizes.

"The wouldurather... contest is an excellent opportunity for college and university students to take their first step towards quitting" says Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "I encourage all students who smoke to register, but more importantly I encourage anyone who knows a smoker to offer their support as a buddy. This contest helps to support Ontario's commitment to protect Ontarians from tobacco, help more people quit smoking, and ensure young people don't get addicted."

In collaboration with peer health educators, campus health professionals and campus administration, Leave The Pack Behind encourages students to succeed in the contest with the help of a "buddy" and weekly support emails. Students are also encouraged to visit their campus' student health services to talk about smoking and find out what quit aids can further increase their chances of quitting success. Some aids are available for free this year.

"After smoking for many years, I was planning on quitting and the contest motivated me to select a quit date and start telling friends and family about my plan" said Brooke, a graduate student at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay who won last year's $1,000 "Quit For Good" prize. "The LTPB contest will also continue to motivate me to stay smoke-free because I know how many people supported me during this contest and I want to continue making them proud."

Students can register at www.LeaveThePackBehind.org/contest.php until January 22nd at 11:59pm.

Leave The Pack Behind is an age-tailored tobacco control initiative offered year-round on post-secondary campuses in Ontario. Leave The Pack Behind is available to over 598,000 students - including an estimated 155,000 smokers.

SOURCE Leave The Pack Behind

For further information:

contact Lindsay Taylor, Assistant Manager of Leave The Pack Behind, at 905-688-5550, ext. 5838; cell: 416-873-0372; e-mail: ltaylor2@brocku.ca or LTPB at 905-688-5550 ext. 5144.

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