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By Eric Lam

Although none of the 250 contestants in the six-week Let’s Make a Deal contest quit smoking for good, the contest was called a success.

“In this day and age, we find any incentive helps. A lot of students relapse, but for us, it’s not a big deal because they’ve taken the initial stage,” said Leave the Pack Behind co-ordinator Alfred Dynavong. “We’re not here to judge, we’re here to support.”

The contest’s main incentive, besides better health, was a shot at winning $500 in tuition credits. The prize was awarded to one lucky quitter at the end-of-contest party for all participants in the Ram in the Rye Tuesday evening.

“There are different prizes for each of the (four) categories,” Dynavong said.

Students who meet their goals are entered into a draw for prizes, he added. “We (handed out) tuition credits of $200 and $100, as well as a free cell phone, a gift basket from Starbucks, passes for the RAC, and a bunch of free CDs.” Health promotion nurse Melissa Matton agreed that encouraging people to quit, even for a short time, is beneficial. “To start the cycle of quitting is admirable no matter what. “Even if you quit and go back, you still have a better chance of quitting for good in the future,” Matton said.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight. If we can just give (quitters) support, knowledge and guidance they’ll quit for good.”

Shane Fields, last year’s winner who now works for the group, said the contest was instrumental in helping him quit. “I definitely wouldn’t have quit when I did,” Fields said. “Lots of people were doing (the contest) so I thought, why not? It was a good last little push in the right direction.”

Those who missed this year’s contest shouldn’t hesitate to quit, organizers say. “I don’t think it matters when we have the contest. It matters when people want to change… the bottom line is the health of the student,” Matton said.

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