Saturday, August 16, 2008

Man who gave up smoking gets chance to attend Games

A Beijing man who has vowed to give up smoking was given a free ticket to watch the men's volleyball on Saturday night.

The reward came courtesy of anti-smoking campaigner Xiong Wei who on Aug. 10 placed an advertisement in the Beijing News offering free Olympic tickets to 10 smokers who promised to quit, China Daily reported.

Xiong told China Daily on Thursday that he received 132 applications within 40 hours of his ad being placed.

Applicants were asked to enter the "competition" by e-mailing their names, occupations and who they worked for - for reasons of public supervision - and smoking history.

The 10 winners - all of whom have good educational backgrounds - were those who set out the most convincing quitting strategies, Xiong said.

"It was difficult picking the winners, because all of the applicants seemed so sincere," he said.

"People are still sending me e-mails vowing to quit, but I have no more tickets," Xiong told China Daily.

He said he signed agreements with nine of the 10 winners on Wednesday, binding them to the terms of the deal.

If any of them start smoking again, they must publish a written apology in the Beijing News and refund the price of the ticket, he said.

One of the winners, 46-year-old college teacher Dong Hengnian, said he wanted the ticket for his son who has recently enrolled in college.

He said he agreed without hesitation to give up his 20-a-day habit.

"A lot of people will be watching me this time, so I will be shamed if I don't kick the habit," Dong told the Beijing News.

The youngest of the 10 winners is Lin Hua, a 14-year-old middle school student from Changsha, capital of Hunan province.

She said she started smoking when her parents were working away from home.

"I'm done with cigarettes as from today," Lin said.

Tang Jun, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences praised Xiong's idea, but said the "quitters" would have the final word.

"It will come down to the integrity of the winners, as only they will know if they have stuck to the deal," she said.

Xiong, however, said he trusted the winners, because of "what I sensed during conversations with them".

Source: Xinhua

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