State health officials – in cooperation with AmeriHealth Mercy of Indiana – today launched “Quit Now Indiana” – a statewide “stop smoking” contest offering $5,000 in cash prizes that is designed to encourage Hoosiers to quit using tobacco.
Karla Sneegas, executive director, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (ITPC), Gale Pearce, executive director, Indiana Operations, for AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies and Ellen Whitt, representing INShape Indiana joined together at a statewide news conference to announce the summer-long campaign that comes in the wake of a historic new low in Indiana’s adult smoking rate from 26.1 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2009 – a decline of 11 percent.
Prize money totaling $5,000 will be provided to the top three winners, courtesy of AmeriHealth Mercy of Indiana, the presenting sponsor of the contest. The top prize winner, who successfully quits smoking from September 1st to September 30th, 2010, and whose name is randomly drawn, will receive $2,500 as the grand prize winner. The second and third place winners will receive $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.
To sign up for the “Quit Now Indiana” contest, entrants must be at least 18 years of age, a legal resident of Indiana and a regular user of tobacco. In addition to signing up online at www.INShape.IN.gov, tobacco users can sign up in person wherever a “Quit Now Indiana” signup box is located. The boxes will be at located at dozens of county fairs and festivals, as well as major events such as the Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration, the Indiana State Fair and the 1-800-QUIT-NOW Concert Series at the Lawn at White River State Park. The entry deadline is August 23rd
State Health Officials, AmeriHealth Mercy of Indiana Launch Contest
“Wellness is important to all of us, and stopping tobacco use is the number one thing we can do to improve our health. One study indicates that the average smoker dies 12 years sooner than non-smokers! We know how hard it is quit. Statistics show that most smokers want to quit and it takes an average of 7-9 tries to quit. So we want to help our employees!"
AmeriHealth Mercy employs over 170 associates throughout Indiana. "We want to join with ITPC and INShape Indiana, to encourage all of our associates to stop smoking and create a healthier, tobacco-free workforce for the state of Indiana,” says Pearce.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Greg Larkin, M.D. agreed.
“We know there are a great many Hoosiers who are ready to quit smoking, and the ‘Quit Now Indiana contest‘ is the perfect opportunity to make a commitment to start living a healthier life,” said Larkin. “Indiana is proud of the great strides we have made recently to lower Indiana’s smoking rate and this effort falls right in line with the proven strategies that are saving lives.”
According to Sneegas, this year’s contest will have a focus on encouraging people to quit with an additional focus on outreach through employers.
“We need our worksites in Indiana to be tobacco-free…adults spend the majority of their day on the job and we want to encourage employers to make the easy choice and create a healthier environment for everyone.”
She continued, “Employers have a fantastic opportunity to capitalize on the momentum that we are building through Quit Now Indiana activities like this year’s contest.”
Data shows that an employer with a workforce of at least 500 people will spend as much as $400,000 annually on costs related to tobacco use by their employees.
Pearce says AmeriHealth Mercy of Indiana is excited to serve as sponsor for the contest, which was previously conducted in 2007 and 2008, during which more than 12,000 smokers pledged to quit.
Hoosier employers are invited to become a Preferred Employer with the Indiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW), a free quit service offered through ITPC. For more information concerning the Preferred Employer program, contact ITPC at (317) 234-1787. To sign up online for the “Quit Now Indiana” contest, visit the INShape Indiana web site at www.INShape.IN.gov.