2013 Winners' Stories
From left to right: Tess Ingram (LTPB Campus Program Coordinator, University of Guelph), Nikita Soukhov (WUR Contest Winner), Melanie Bowman (Manager, Wellness Education)
Like most do, I started smoking when I was a teenager - about 14. My addiction was worsened during my service in the army and when I was working in several construction sites. In both of these environments smoking is pretty common and is a reason for a break. The thought of abandoning this nasty habit was in my head for quite a long period of time. The announcement of the contest appeared in my email box in perfect timing. Here are my thoughts when I saw the headline “Leave the Pack Behind”: Well, I am graduating in two months, and my thirties are just behind corner, I need to open a new and healthy chapter in my life, let’s do it. The decision was made!
Next, I made an appointment with my doctor on campus. He gave me a long list of amazingly true reasons of why my decision is making so much sense. He also gave me a bag full of nicotine replacement products, shook my hand and said GOOD LUCK!
The first three weeks were a battle. I tried to keep myself as busy as I could so I would not have time to think about smoking. I also tried to “choke” myself with oxygen by increasing the time I spend in the gym and in the pool. That worked great. When exercising, you really feel the difference of smoke-free lungs.
What also was shocking is the amount of support I received during these weeks. Family, co-workers, and friends (even the ones that smoke) were backing me up, gave me advises, and asked about my progress. It seemed to me that the whole universe is on my side. And then BAM! I was informed that I am the provincial grand prize winner.
I just want to say a big thank you to all the people that are involved in this quitting smoking program. Not only that I gain my health, but I also won some money that will serve a good cause. My girlfriend is currently in Australia, working to save some funds for her flight ticket to Canada. The prize will get us closer much more quickly.
Nikita Soukhov, University of Guelph, Grand-prize winner of $1000
From left to right: Emily Brewster (LTPB Team Member, Humber Lakeshore), Emily Heath (WUR Contest Winner), Amal Mohamed (Health Centre Staff, Humber Lakeshore)
Signing up with Leave the Pack Behind helped change me for the better. Keeping the count made me aware of how much I actually was smoking a day and the health impacts that follow. I have been able to completely quit smoking and have never felt better. Counting the amount of cigarettes I smoked daily was the best way to quit for me. I also really liked that the contest was a positive reinforcement rather than a negative one. Having a buddy is extremely helpful with the quitting process and I am so glad that I took the opportunity to sign up when Leave the Pack Behind came to my school. I encourage everyone to give it a try as the benefits incorporated with quitting exceed the ones smoking provides.
Emily Heath, Humber College - Lakeshore Campus, Grand-prize winner of $500
From left to right: Carol Hopky (Health Services, Algonquin College), Shaugn Best (WUR Contest Winner), Judy Doxtator (Health Services, Algonquin College)
I started smoking towards the end of high school. Looking back, I don’t know why I even started in the first place...but that’s behind me, now. Leaving the pack behind while partying was harder than I thought. I had thought about quitting a few times in the past, but never took it seriously. But Leave the Pack Behind had this challenge, so I decided to take them up on it! I’m a person with strong willpower, and I thought it would be a piece of cake to just give it up...Turns out that it wasn’t! But I stuck to my guns, and I’ve now been smoke-free since Christmas. It feels good to be smoke-free, though I’ll admit that I still miss it sometimes when I’m out at a party, or having a few drinks. But I can say that I don’t miss the nasty smell of smoke on my fingers, and I definitely don’t miss waking up the next morning with a dry mouth! Thanks for helping me Leave the Pack Behind!
Shaugn Best, Algonquin College, Grand-prize winner of $250
From left to right: Tess Ingram (LTPB Campus Program Coordinator, University of Guelph), Rebecca Hebert (WUR Contest Winner), Melanie Bowman (Manager, Wellness Education)
I have never smoked anything in my life and I do not plan on it in the future. I've learned about way too many health hazards and consequences from smoking and so it is something that has never appealed to me. I try to encourage others around me to stop smoking and with this contest I have shown that it is possible to avoid pressures that encourage smoking. Although I understand that it is harder to stop once you have started I believe that everyone is capable of changing their own behaviour if they put their mind to it. A contest like this could be extremely beneficial to many individuals in changing their negative smoking behaviours because it is straightforward, simple, and encouraging. The buddy system can also keep you motivated so that you are pushed to comfortable limits and have someone to celebrate all of your minor victories with along the way. I hope that anyone who smokes now will consider quitting and those who want to quit soon will follow through, it is definitely something that will change your life. I support you!
Rebecca Hebert, University of Guelph, Grand-prize winner of $100
We thank Pfizer Canada for their generous support of our contest.-->