April 21 2011The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Tobacco Program invites Southeast tobacco users to participate in the “Dear Me, Hear Me” contest encouraging Alaskans to quit tobacco for good. SEARHC is teaming up with the State of Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program to host the new contest as part of the state’s successful “Dear Me” tobacco-cessation-focused media campaign. The “Dear Me, Hear Me” contest is designed to encourage Alaskans to quit tobacco and be featured in a “Dear Me” TV commercial. The contest asks adult tobacco users who are residents of Alaska (age 18 or older) to write a candid letter about their battle with tobacco, and submit it in order to share their story and encourage sharing among others. Two grand prize winners will get to film their own “Dear Me” commercial and win $500. “We’re excited to share this campaign with Alaskans on a more personal level,” Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Manager Alexandria Hicks said. “It is a unique opportunity to help Alaskans quit tobacco and share their stories of struggle with addiction.” Over the past year and a half, “Dear Me” has been an integral part of helping Alaskans quit tobacco. The personal stories encourage thoughts of quitting and increased the number of quit attempts and calls to Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW/1-800-784-8669). The campaign features messages using a peer-to-peer approach, with an actual tobacco user delivering the “no one can make me quit but me” message. As a result, the Alaska Quit Line and other regional tobacco cessation programs have experienced a huge increase in callers, with many reciting the tag line word for word. Two Sitka residents (Paul Duncan and Sharon Jacobs) have been featured in statewide ads. Dr. Gary Ferguson, Director of Wellness and Prevention for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, said the campaign resonates well with Alaskans, especially Alaska Natives, who generally put the onus on themselves to make change. This is particularly important, since nearly half of Alaska Natives are current smokers (43 percent, the highest rate of tobacco use by any ethnic group in the state). Any adult Alaska resident can enter the contest by going to http://alaskaquitline.com/ to submit contact information and a Dear Me letter by the Friday, May 20, deadline (examples of previous “Dear Me” ads are posted on the site). Other entry options include regular mail (Dear Me, Hear Me, PO Box 101379, Anchorage, AK, 99510-1379), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/alaskaquitline) or fax (1-907-562-2570). From the entries, 10 semifinalists will be chosen and each semifinalist will receive a Flip video camera to film themselves reading their letter. The semifinalists will need to mail, email or post their video to the Alaska Quit Line’s website or Facebook page by Friday, June 3, for review. Two grand prize winners will be chosen from the submitted videos to be featured in their own “Dear Me” commercial and awarded $500 each. The two grand prize winners will film their commercials during the last two weeks of June 2011. Each participant in the “Dear Me, Hear Me” contest will receive a “quit kit” in the mail that includes a tote bag, journal and pen, magnet, mints and a commitment bracelet. For more information on the contest, go to http://alaskaquitline.com/, http://www.facebook.com/alaskaquitline or by emailing email@example.com.