13 split prize for quitting smoking

The China Post staff

Thirteen lucky contestants split NT$1.5 million in prize money yesterday offered by the John Tung Foundation for successfully kicking the cigarette habit for an entire year. The contest was held in coordination with the World Health Organization’s “Quit & Win” campaign held throughout the world over the past year. A total of 23,095 contestants from Taiwan entered the contest, whereby they were monitored for a year to make sure that they didn’t sneak a smoke on the side. People who were able to forego cigarettes for the entire twelve months were then eligible to enter a cash-prize lottery sponsored by the anti-smoking John Tung Foundation. Tsai Chin-hong, a doctor at the Changhua Christian Hospital, won the top prize of NT$60,000 for his efforts over the past year. He said he planned to donate some of his winnings to the ROC Search and Rescue Headquarters. Second prize went to the oldest person taking part in the contest, a 93-year old man named Hsu Tuan who had been smoking for the past 70 years. Hsu said he decided to give up smoking because he didn’t want his grandchildren to be exposed to any more second-hand smoke. His grandson, Hsu Chang-yu, enrolled him in the program after being told by a doctor that second-hand smoke was probably responsible for his mother’s persistent cough. “Quitting smoking is better. Young people should quit right away,” was Hsu’s advice to the next generation of smokers.

Unfortunately, that sort of suggestion probably wouldn’t have had much effect on another lucky winner, Wu Chin-po, who walked away with NT$20,000 from the lottery. Wu said he had tried quitting before but had never had any luck. His wife told him he was useless and suggested drinking pesticide as a way of ending his misery. Even his doctor told him not to come back unless he had given up cigarettes. None of that “encouragement” worked, Wu said, adding that he might never have succeeded in kicking the habit if it hadn’t been for the “Quit & Win” program. That, and the thought that he could win a cash prize at the end of the ordeal, he said. The success of the program inspired Weng Jui-heng, director of the Bureau of National Health Insurance to repeat the program, complete with cash prizes, next year. Weng encouraged everyone who didn’t win in this year’s lottery to enroll in the next contest. At the same time, Weng reminded smokers that they could receive government subsidized assistance to help them quit the habit. He said that as of July 1, smokers could receive treatment to help them stop smoking at 23 Department of Health (DOH) affiliated hospitals around the country and a number of private ones as well. The DOH will subsidize eight sessions, or around half of the total cost of the treatment, Weng said.