Six-month outcomes of a multi-campus smoking cessation contest
Wilson, Julie Dawn.
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Background: Up to 40% of North American post-secondary students smoke at least occasionally, and most want to quit. Given students' preferences for free, easy-to-access, self-directed, convenient cessation methods, a motivational, incentive-based cessation contest may be an effective way to assist students to quit. The current study describes 3- and 6-month outcomes experienced by post-secondary student smokers who entered the 'Let's Make A Deal!' contest. Methodology: Contestants from five university campuses who chose to quit completely ('Quit For Good') or reduce their tobacco consumption by 50% ('Keep The Count') were invited to participate in a study of the contest. Three and six months after registration, participants were contacted by phone to assess their smoking and quitting behaviours. Qualitative and quantitative measures were collected, including weekly tobacco consumption, efficacy to resist temptations to smoke, use of quitting aids, and strategies to cope with withdrawal. Quitting was assessed using 7-day point prevalence and continuous abstinence. Results: Seventy-four (64.9%) of the 114 participants recruited for the study completed the follow-ups. Over 31 % of participants who entered Quit For Good and 23.5% of participants who entered Keep The Count were identified as quitters at the 6-month follow-up. Among the quitters, 45.5% experienced sustained abstinence from smoking for the 6-month duration of the study. Keep The Count contestants reduced their tobacco consumption by 57.2% at 3-month follow-up and sustained some of this reduction through to the 6-month follow-up. Qualitative data provides insights into how quitters coped with withdrawal and what hampered continuing smokers' efforts to quit. Significance: A motivational, incentive-based contest for post-secondary students can facilitate both smoking cessation and harm reduction. The contest environment, incentives, resources, and "buddies" provide positive structural and social supports to help smokers overcome potential barriers to quitting, successfully stop smoking, and manage potential triggers to relapse. The contest cessation rates are higher than the typical 5-7% associated with unassisted quitting.