THEY may still have a wheezy laugh, but a few lucky Costa Rican smokers could line their pockets with $1,500, enjoy an all-expense-paid weekend at the beach or have their teeth stains removed free of charge – if they quit smoking for the month of May.
Costa Rica has entered Quit and Win 2004, an international competition held every other year since 1994 that pits hundreds of thousands of smokers from 100 countries against their own nicotine cravings for the chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 and six other prizes of $2,500, as well as national prizes.
This year, the contest’s internati onalorganizers, the Finnish National Public Health Institute and the World Health Organization, hope to attract a million contestants. Though the contest started with just 60,000 smokers in 1994, it grew to 700,000 by 2002.
The contest has only a few rules for those who hope to quit smoking and take home some money: First, contestants must bring someone along who can vouch for them – both that they are smokers and that they abstained for a month.
Contestants must have been smokers for at least a year, must be at least 18 years old, quit smoking for four weeks starting May 1 and be willing to take a Nic Check test to prove they have not cheated. Dippers are also eligible, by the way.
National prizes in Costa Rica are offered by the Social Security System (Caja) and the Institute of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (IAFA): $1,500, a weekend at Punta Leona beach resort, on the Central Pacific coast, or a teeth-whitening treatment at the Latin American University of Science and Technology.
Foreigners can enter the Costa Rican contest if they can prove they have legally lived in the country for more than a year.
To enter, pick up an entry form from the central IAFA office in Barrio La Granja, San Pedro, 400 meters from the old Banco Popular, or at one of the institute’s regional offices throughout the country and other locations – IAFA has information on where they will be distributed.
For more info, call 224-6122 or see www.quitandwin.org. Forms are available by fax at 224-6762. The deadline to enter is April 30.