$5,000 Awarded to The QuitCash Challenge Winner

Winner finds that persistence pays off and celebrates with some tips to quit and stay quit this summer

May 31, 2012, 10:42 ET from ClearWay Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS, May 31, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Nicki Vilmo of Montrose, Minn. was one of more than 3,000 Minnesotans who entered The QuitCash Challenge, kicking her tobacco habit and remaining smoke-free for at least one month. Today, QUITPLAN Services celebrated Nicki's accomplishment and presented her with a check for $5,000.

Like many smokers, this isn't the first time Nicki has tried to quit smoking. In fact, she was previously selected as a runner-up winner in The QuitCash Challenge, but had to turn down the prize because she hadn't successfully quit. Nicki didn't give up though; with the support of her mom and husband, the smoker of 17 years successfully quit smoking and was again randomly selected as The QuitCash Challenge winner. This time she happily accepted.

"I quit for my kids," says Nicki, "I don't want them to grow up thinking smoking is okay, I want to be a good role model."

The QuitCash Challenge helps motivate more than 3,000 Minnesotans to quit smoking every year. QUITPLAN Services recommends the following top five tips to stay quit this summer:

  1. Identify Urges – Write down every strong urge you have, where you are, what you're doing and thinking. Finding a pattern or cause to the urges can help you feel more in control of them.
  2. Develop Coping Skills – Make a list of the coping skills to use when the urge arises. Sometimes we forget what our coping skills are when the going gets tough; it helps to have things written down to reinforce your strengths.
  3. When the urge hits, get up and get going! Change your scenery or try a new activity. Don't try to fight through it. Call someone, go for a walk or get a healthy snack.
  4. Remember Your Successes – Remind yourself of the amazing changes the body goes through after quitting; heart attack risk reduces even after only 24 hours, in 48-72 hours nerve endings start re-growing.
  5. Get Through the First Year – Remember, maneuvering through the first smoke free year involves dealing with triggers that are related to specific seasons and events—sitting outside on a patio, Labor Day cookouts or the Fourth of July may make you crave a cigarette. When you feel tempted, remember you've resisted urges before and refer to your list of coping skills.

Nicki offered advice to those trying to quit and stay quit this summer, "It sounds cliche, but the best advice I have is to take it one day at a time. Don't worry about the overwhelming big picture, just focus on getting through one more day without smoking." She also suggests eating healthy snacks while quitting and changing daily patterns to avoid triggers.

"ClearWay Minnesota and QUITPLAN Services are here to help all Minnesotans quit smoking and stay quit. We commend all Minnesotans who entered The QuitCash Challenge, and use QUITPLAN Services for taking steps toward a healthier life," said David Willoughby, CEO of Clearway Minnesota. "We are thrilled that The QuitCash Challenge motivated Nicki to quit and that she was able to take part in the contest to accomplish her goal."

Of the 3,061 contestants, 62 percent were women and 38 percent were men. Fifteen percent of participants (453) were between the ages of 18 and 24, 20 percent (609) were between the ages of 25 and 34, 27 percent (827) were between the ages of 35 to 44, while 19 percent of the participants were between the ages of both 45 to 54 and 55 plus (588 and 584 respectively).  The 11 county metro area was represented by 63 percent of contestants (1,889), while 37 percent of participants (1,141) were from outstate. Nearly all 87 counties (90 percent coverage of the state) were represented in this year's challenge. 

Launched by ClearWay Minnesota in 2001, QUITPLAN Services offers all Minnesotans year-round, free access to quit-smoking counseling and can provide individuals with nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Minnesotans can find out about all the free help to quit smoking available through QUITPLAN Services by visiting quitplan.com or calling 1-888-354-PLAN (7526).

QUITPLAN® Services for Minnesotans include:

  • The QUITPLAN® Helpline – The QUITPLAN Helpline offers telephone counseling and free nicotine patches, lozenges or gum to eligible callers.
  • quitplan.com The website offers free lifetime membership, helpful quitting tools and activities and the option to connect online with thousands of others who have chosen to quit tobacco.
  • QUITPLAN® at Work – The QUITPLAN at Work program offers free on-site professional group counseling for eligible businesses with at least eight employees ready to stop smoking.

About ClearWay Minnesota(SM)
ClearWay Minnesota is an independent nonprofit organization that improves the health of Minnesotans by reducing the harm caused by tobacco. ClearWay Minnesota serves Minnesota through its grant-making program, QUITPLAN® stop-smoking services and statewide outreach activities. It is funded with 3 percent of the state's 1998 tobacco settlement. For more information on ClearWay Minnesota or QUITPLAN Services, call 952-767-1400 or visit clearwaymn.org.

SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota