Background: This article provides a description and evaluation of a community-sponsored smoking cessation contest. Adapted from previous efforts, "Quit to Win" relied solely on community resources and was promoted to the two million residents of San Diego County, California.
Methods: A large recruitment campaign included print and electronic media. Eight hundred and two smokers participated in the contest. Contest entry forms served as the pretreatment measure, quit cards measured smoking status, and follow-up telephone interviews collected additional data on three groups: joiners, nonjoiners, and comparison subjects.
Results: Thirty-five percent of the participants reported being smoke-free two months after the program. Television was by far the most effective promotional medium, while individuals who received a promotional flyer were somewhat more likely to actually join the contest than those who heard of it through other sources. Self-confidence, outcome expectations, and lighter smoking habit were predictive of contest participation. Of joiners, those with a greater fear of suffering from withdrawal were less likely to quit.
Discussion: The approximate cost per quitter was $17.25 based on the direct budget expenses for the contest. However, this does not include the significant cost of the many donated services. Large smoking cessation contests can be cost-effective while providing direct and indirect benefits to anti-tobacco efforts.