Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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News Release

Two local quitters are winners in the Driven to Quit Challenge

Apr 19, 2011
Two local men are a little bit richer and a whole lot healthier this month after successfully quitting smoking in the provincial Driven to Quit Challenge.

Two local men are a little bit richer and a whole lot healthier this month after successfully quitting smoking in the provincial Driven to Quit Challenge. 

Barrie resident and new father, 28-year-old Gary McConkey, quit his 10 year addiction for the challenge and wins a $2,000 MasterCard gift card as one of seven regional winners.


McConkey says the secret to success is to take it day by day, urge by urge and stick with it. He says he had to make changes to his regular routines that were a trigger to smoke.


“For the morning coffee break, instead of going outside, I used that break to eat and enjoy my breakfast and talk with colleagues,” said McConkey. “Another real trigger was driving, so I brought mints and water to take the place of a cigarette. I also used Nicorette gum to help me.”


His wife and support buddy, Ashley Zemlanko, who decided to quit smoking when she became pregnant with their five-month-old baby, receives a $200 gift card for her role helping McConkey steer clear of cigarettes. They continue to support each other to be smoke free.


A second Barrie man, Greg Duncan, won the early bird prize of a $1,000 MasterCard. The self- confessed half-a-pack-a-day smoker, said he was determined to break his 49-year addiction to support his wife who had a heart attack.


“She needed to quit before they would give her a pacemaker and she knew she couldn’t do it if I was still smoking around her, so I quit cold turkey,” said Duncan.


His support buddy, colleague Cindy Cox, said Duncan took up the harmonica to have something to do with his hands and “he has become quite good at it.”  She too receives a $200 gift card for helping him stay on track.


The grand prize winner of the new Honda hybrid Insight was Brian Perkins of Brantford. Two second prize winners of $5,000 CAA vacation getaways were Jacqueline Kobow of Acton and Jen Smith of Hamilton. There were also six other regional winners in the challenge.

Across the province a record 36,312 people registered to quit smoking for the month of March in the annual challenge hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society in partnership with local health units.  In Simcoe Muskoka a record 2,626 made a quit attempt during the challenge.


Support continues to be available for anyone who wants to quit smoking or who needs help staying tobacco free through the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline. It offers both telephone counseling (1-877-513-5333) and web-based services ( Local residents can also call Your Health Connection at weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-720-7520 for more information.


Driven to Quit Challenge Winners

GRAND PRIZE WINNER Honda Insight hybrid
Brian Perkins, Brantford,

Jacqueline Kobow, Acton and Jen Smith, Hamilton

EARLY BIRD PRIZE WINNER $1,000 MasterCard gift card
Greg Duncan, Barrie

REGIONAL PRIZE WINNERS $2,000 MasterCard gift card

CENTRAL EAST Gary McConkey, Barrie
CENTRAL WEST Carl Pretty, Niagara Falls
SOUTH WEST Kathy Ross, London
EASTERN Brian Medicraft, Vanier
NORTH EAST Marcel Charbonneau, Larder Lake
NORTH WEST Jim Prentice, Thunder Bay

More information is available at

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