- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
May 28, 2004

The Will to Win: Smokers trade puffs for prizes during May campaign

For Mikayel Abrahamyan, 49, this month was another opportunity to test his will and to return to a healthy life style.

“It’s been almost a month that I’ve been trying to quit smoking,” says Abrahamyan who has been an inveterate smoker for 23 years. “It’s very hard. I want to smoke every hour but I’m trying everything to get myself distracted and do some work so that I get the main prize.”

Mikayel Abrahamyan is trying to quit. An international competition is his incentive..

This year, just like citizens of 100 other countries, more than 360 smokers of Armenia participated in the international Quit & Win anti-smoking competition.

Participants fill in special forms according to which they are obliged not to smoke from May 2 to May 29. Also, two witnesses are registered who have to control the one who “gave a promise”.

“It’s the sixth time that the Quit & Win program is being carried out in the world,” says the coordinator of the anti-smoking program at the Ministry of Health Alexander Bazarchyan. “This is a unique anti-smoking struggle which we, too, have joined this time.”

According to the organizers of the project, even though the locals were late to learn of Quit & Win, the competition attracted a lot of attention. As a result, many of those from the capital and the regions who want to try their nerves and their will and are anticipating prizes, came to take part in the project.

“This was a real discovery in my life,” says Paytsar Avetikyan, who has been smoking for 20 years. “Thanks to this program I quit smoking and I feel good. I can’t believe it myself. Every day starts in a new way and I started feeling better. Prizes and competition encourage me and I want to be one of the best.”

Coordinator of Quit & Win program David Petrossyan says participants of the project are mainly middle aged men. There are fewer women, since most women in Armenia are trying to hide the fact of their smoking.

David Petrossyan help start the anti-smoking contest..

Petrosyan says that according to the rules of the competition each week their colleague calls the participants and tries to find out whether they have broken their promise. As a result, it turned out that the number of those whose will is strong had cut to 120, the rest went back to smoking.

“It’s very hard to quit smoking,” says Petrosyan. “It also becomes clear from the course of the competition. Many can’t stand it and start smoking again, explaining that they were nervous and couldn’t sustain.”

According to organizers, those people who resist and don’t smoke till the end will get prizes and will feel more healthy.

“Witnesses will be questioned after which by special indicators we will check the participants to find out whether they’ve smoked or not during the prohibited period. After that, the winners will get prizes through lots drawing,” says Petrosyan.

Winners compete for cups, shirts and luggage.

“Those two participants who will get the bags as a result of lot casting will be considered the winners,” says Petrosyan. “Their names will be sent to Helsinki, so that they take part in the international competition.”

Names submitted to Helsinki will be subject to a computerized drawing from which there will be six prizes of $2,500 and one grand prize of $10,000.

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