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The 2010 Driven to Quit Challenge: motivating Ontarians to make a quit attempt


I Introduction
II The Canadian Cancer Society and tobacco control
III About The Driven to Quit Challenge
IV Integrating with partners
V How The Challenge was promoted
VI Evaluation and lessons learned

-- submitted by Krista Bennett Senior Coordinator, Communications, Canadian Cancer Society Smokers’ Helpline

I Introduction

Since 2006, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), Ontario Division, has hosted The Driven to Quit Challenge, a provincial health promotion campaign encouraging adult tobacco users to make an attempt to quit smoking or tobacco use. To date, more than 130,000 registrants across Ontario were inspired to enter make a quit attempt. The 2010 Challenge was a great success, motivating 28,835 Ontarians to quit smoking or tobacco use and reduce their risk of cancer – the highest registration numbers to date. This article describes The Challenge and who participated, and details the promotion activities that enabled its success.

II The Canadian Cancer Society and Tobacco Control

Tobacco use continues to be the primary cause of premature, avoidable death and disease in Ontario. It is estimated that 13,000 Ontarians will die this year as a result of tobacco use. Smoking and tobacco use is directly related to 30% of cancers and causes more than 85% of lung cancers. Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death for both women and men in Canada. In 2010, it is estimated that 24,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 20,600 will die of it.

III About The Driven to Quit Challenge

The purpose of The Challenge was to encourage Ontario adult tobacco users to quit smoking or tobacco use for an uninterrupted period (one month) with the help of a support buddy, and other resources.


Given the CCS’s position in tobacco control, the Government of Ontario, Ministry of Health Promotion, selected the Ontario Division, through Smokers’ Helpline, to host The 2010 Driven to Quit Challenge. The Ministry provided funding and McNeil Consumer Healthcare was the official campaign prize sponsor.

Who participated?

The Challenge was open to any regular and occasional tobacco users who met the following criteria:

  • 19 years of age or older
  • a current tobacco user who smoked/used tobacco at least once weekly for at least one year (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and Snus)
  • Ontario resident
  • quit on or after January 1, 2010
  • signed up with a support buddy (required to be an Ontario resident over the age of 19).

The average age of participants over the past five years is 39, with the youngest participants being 19.

All eligible entrants were entered into a draw for a 2010 Ford Escape hybrid (grand prize), one of two $5,000 vacation getaways and one of seven regional prizes – $2,000 MasterCard gift cards. An early bird prize, a $1,000 MasterCard gift card, was also offered for the first time in 2010 for anyone who registered during the month of January. Support buddies of winners also received a $200 MasterCard gift card in recognition of the tremendous support they provided throughout The Challenge. Potential winners who met the eligibility requirements and remained tobacco-free (confirmed by both the winner and the buddy) underwent a urine test for confirmation of tobacco-free status. Participants were permitted to use Nicotine Replacement Therapies throughout The Challenge.

Ontarians could register online or by phone, fax or mail in either English or French.

Determining winners

On March 31, 2010, potential winners’ names were randomly drawn by a third party agency to determine the grand prize winner, two secondary winners, seven regional winners, and the early bird prize winner. A strict protocol was followed to determine each winner.

IV Integrating with partners

Mobilizing partners plays a huge role in the success of The Challenge. CCS works with seven Tobacco Control Area Network (TCAN) coordinators across the province and their 36 public health units. Other partners in cessation, including other Ministry funded organizations, are also instrumental in disseminating messages about The Challenge and helping Ontarians to make a quit attempt. CCS works with partners to align campaigns and maximize resources.

Partners commit significant resources to Challenge promotion and develop their own outreach strategies and collateral in collaboration with Challenge organizers. CCS communicates regularly with partners, specifically TCAN coordinators, through a shared web portal and weekly teleconferences. Partners are encouraged to contact Challenge organizers with questions, comments and ideas. They have the opportunity to offer feedback and recommendations for promotion strategy.

V How The Challenge was promoted

The 2010 Challenge was launched on January 4, 2010 to coincide with New Year’s resolutions and to build momentum leading into National Non-Smoking Week (January 18 – 24, 2010). A pre-promotion period ran from mid December up until the launch to build brand awareness and to encourage people to plan for their quit attempts.

Promotional initiatives for The Challenge are a key component in raising awareness of the campaign among Ontario smokers and tobacco users and their friends and family. Disseminating information about The Challenge may also help to motivate Ontarians to make a quit attempt. Each year, multiple provincial and regional components are developed and are vital in promoting The Challenge.

The following areas were the focus of promotion for the 2010 Challenge:

  • promotional initiatives
  • internal communications
  • paid media
  • earned media
  • events.

Promotional initiatives

  • Provincial tools developed for the 2010 campaign include posters (French and English) and The Challenge website (French and English).
  • Reach and awareness of The Challenge was extended through new promotional activities:
  • Pre promotion of The Challenge began in mid-December 2009.
  • Early bird registration prize.
  • Occasional smokers were eligible to enter The Challenge.
  • Online focus (registration, provincial buy etc).
  • Strong social media campaign including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and a blog.
  • First time awarding of a hybrid SUV as the grand prize.
  • Young male sub target market (at point-of-sale in The Beer Store).
  • Prize vendor cross promotion (with Canadian Automobile Association).
  • Pharmacy promotion (Wal-Mart, Metro, Remedys and Loblaws).
  • Attendance at the Canadian International Auto Show, reach of approximately 300,000.
  • Attendance at Body Worlds event at the Ontario Science Centre during National Non-Smoking Week.
  • Public service announcement, endorsement and advertorial with media personalities.

Internal communications

CCS staff act as ambassadors to promote The Challenge. Several activities were carried out to support communications internally:

  • all-staff webinars
  • Smokers’ Helpline staff media training
  • two announcements on the homepage of the staff and volunteer intranet
  • two Driven to Quit Challenge e-mail signatures, in January and April, for all outgoing internal and external e-mails.

Paid Media

The 2010 provincial paid media campaign for The Challenge consisted of several mediums:

  • radio
  • television – closed captioning and public service announcements
  • newspaper – full page advertorials in three major Ontario papers
  • magazine
  • online – Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Facebook, various sites targeting Ontario adults aged 19+; e-mail subscriptions
  • in store.

Earned media

The level of earned media coverage achieved for the 2010 Challenge was very successful. Overall, earned media had a positive tone and extended the reach of the paid media campaign.

Earned media for the 2010 campaign included:

  • radio interview and mentions
  • television news stories
  • print articles
  • internet mentions
  • followers on Facebook and Twitter with positive engagement and interaction on both platforms.


At a provincial level, two media event opportunities were coordinated through the Canadian Cancer Society. Rick Perciante, Acting CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division and The Honourable Margarett Best, Minister of Health Promotion, launched the 2010 Challenge by video. Other events to launch the 2010 Driven to Quit Challenge were held in collaboration between local Canadian Cancer Society Units, Smokers’ Helpline Regional Coordinators and public health units across the province.

The prize presentation and winners breakfast for the 2010 Driven to Quit Challenge celebrated and highlighted the success of the eleven winners and the support they were given.

Media were invited to all events.

VI Evaluation and lessons learned

A formal evaluation was developed and a questionnaire was completed by 800 Ontarians, both current and former tobacco users. A snap shot of the findings include:

  • More than one-half of individuals participating in the evaluation (55%) were aware of The Challenge.
  • The most frequently mentioned reason, by 52% of respondents, as to why respondents who are aware of The Challenge did not participate is because they were not ready to quit smoking.
  • One-third of respondents agreed that information they had heard about The Challenge had influenced their decision to quit.
  • Though awareness of The Challenge has remained consistent over time, reported enrollment has significantly increased.
  • Among those who successfully quit as a result of The Challenge, participation was highest in 2010.
  • Among tobacco users who had participated in The Challenge, the chance to win a prize was the top motivator in making a quit attempt, tied with desire to improve overall health.
  • 81% of tobacco users and 92% of respondents who successfully quit as a result of The Challenge indicate that they would recommend The Challenge to someone who wants to quit using tobacco.
  • Among those who had ever taken part in The Challenge, 87% of those who successfully quit indicated that The Challenge was important in encouraging them to try to quit.
  • Three in four tobacco users who participated in The Challenge (75%) indicated it was important in encouraging them to try to quit.
  • Television, newspaper and the radio are the most frequently reported ways that tobacco users heard about The Challenge.
  • 46% of tobacco users aware of The Challenge talked about it with their friends and family members.

The 2010 Challenge was a great success because of a range of factors, but two components are of particular note:

  • Integrating with partners was essential for the successful, province-wide promotion.
  • The robust promotion campaign included an integrated strategy based on events, social media, paid ads, earned media and unique initiatives.