Contest Information

Winners' Stories

2017 Early Bird Winner - Jordan

I signed up for the wouldurather... contest because I've tried quitting almost every other way and was unsuccessful. This contest plus my competitiveness makes me keep focused and the end game in mind... never smoking again! With the early bird prize money I've won (and the main contest prize money if I'm lucky enough to win that too), I plan to take my buddies from this contest and those who supported me out for a drink. The rest I plan to put away for sports this summer and hunting in the fall.

Jordan Mejia, 2017 Early Bird prize winner

2017 Quit For Good Winner - Lauren

My name is Lauren and I signed up for the contest in the Quit For Good category because I would rather be in control of my life.

I started smoking when I was way too young to buy a pack. I was in high school and I know it is cliché, but the cool kids smoked, and it was my "in".

Over a decade later, while I stood outside, in the freezing cold, with my hand completely numb, I decided to quit. I've tried to quit before, tried to cut back or go cold turkey but they're not lying when they say quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to quit. The wouldurather… contest was further motivation as the winnings could mean my fiancé and I can afford the wedding we want and win or lose, it was something I could look forward to.

Personally, my biggest challenge with quitting smoking was breaking the routine. My first step to quitting smoking was going without those routine smokes. Skipping the morning coffee and cigarette was the hardest one to skip but it made the rest of them easier.

My biggest success was talking my mom into quitting too. Having my family not just cheer me on from the side lines but to do it right along with me feels amazing. My motivation to stay smoke free is the realization of how ridiculous it is to let a pack of smokes control every minute of my life.

Lauren Van Den Beld, Burlington

2017 Keep The Count Winner - Mohammad Rayhaan

My name is Mohammad Rayhaan, and I started smoking at the age of 18 since I was surrounded by friends who were heavy smokers. The first puff was weird but in the long run I started loving the smoke and eventually grew addicted to cigarette[s].

One day I went to the hospital and saw a patient suffering from lung cancer due to continuous heavy smoking and that made me realize the bad effects of smoking on my health. I spent loads of money buying cigarettes, and started to think that I was wasting so much money just to destroy my health. I tried several times to quit smoking but in vain, the addiction and temptation was overwhelming.

Thanks to the wouldurather…contest, I am now free from the addiction. Enrolling into [the] competition made me discover new means to avoid cigarettes, such as its helpful booklets which gave me tips to avoid [smoking]. Furthermore, I had a buddy who helped me to stop smoking. The wouldurather…contest greatly helped me to quit smoking.

Mohammad Rayhaan Goolam Dustagheer, Ottawa

2017 Party Without The Smoke Winner - Jaymer Viola

My name is Jaymer Viola and I signed up for the contest [in the] Party Without The Smoke category because I would rather be smoke-free and healthy.

I started smoking at the end of grade 11. It wasn't until someone I know had cancer that I decided to quit smoking, I realized then how dangerous my habit was; however, quitting was not easy.

It wasn't until I moved to Oshawa from Toronto that I started noticing results. The new environment gave me the push that I needed because I no longer interact with people or things that trigger my smoking. My transition from smoker to smoke-free was much easier.

The prize from the wouldurather…contest was a motivation for me and gave me the additional push that I needed [to quit]. What motivates me to stop smoking is continuously reminding myself why I decided to quit in the first place, and that is to be healthy.

Jaymer Viola, Oshawa

2017 Don't Start & Win Winner - Sandra Evoy

My name is Sandra Evoy and I signed up for the contest in the Don’t Start and Win category because I would rather stay healthy to be able to watch my children grow up.

The reason I decided to stay smoke-free is my two young children and what motivates me is knowing that it is my responsibility to be a positive role model in their lives. When it comes to making healthy choices, I need to show them how important it is to stay smoke-free. As a family we try to spend as much time outside as we can. Riding bikes, playing at the park or even going for walks would be impossible if I were to smoke. It would take time away from these fun activities and negatively impact my family financially.

I am glad that Leave the Pack Behind exists to help young people quit or even just cut back on smoking so they can take control of their own health in a way that provides support and encouragement. I also think it is fantastic that there is a Don’t Start and Win category so that people like me can remain smoke-free and be rewarded for their positive choices in life.

Sandra Evoy, Kingston