U gives smokers motive to quit

A study at three Minnesota colleges offers prizes to students who succesfully quit.
  • Daily Photo Illustration
October 07, 2010

The many health benefits of putting out cigarettes for good just got even sweeter for University of Minnesota student smokers.

The University Medical School and the National Institutes of Health have teamed up with three other Minnesota colleges to aid students in quitting smoking. They will also collect data throughout the study and to be used to improve smoking cessation services for students nationwide.

Perks of the study include two weeks of free nicotine patches, weekly support e-mails, quit kits and Target gift cards to those who complete follow-up surveys, according to the study’s website.

"Basically, quit-and-win studies are popular ways to get students to quit smoking," said the study’s coordinator, Jill Ronco.

All interested students take an online survey that determines whether they are eligible for the study. All eligible students must provide a urine sample this month to prove they are actually smokers.

Participants will be randomly placed into one of four study groups, differing in length and involvement.

All study participants, including those at other participating campuses, will commit to quit smoking for the month of November. Students who are able to quit — a Nov. 30 urine sample will determine their success or failure — will be placed in a drawing for a chance to win a trip for two to the Caribbean or a shopping spree, both worth $3,000.

Depending on which study students are placed in, they will have the chance to continue and win more prize money. For up to three months, another $1,000 will be raffled off for those who are still nicotine-free.

"What research has found is that they will quit for the contest’s duration but then the relapse to start smoking again is quite significant," Ronco said. "This study is looking at the ways to improve the contest in order to improve cessation rates over the long term."

Engineering junior Israel Endeshaw, who has been smoking for more than two years, decided to participate in the study because he simply doesn’t like smoking anymore.

Endeshaw said he hopes the incentives of the Quit and Win study will help him stay smoke-free for good.

Students can sign up for the study through Oct. 10.

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