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BACKGROUND: One potential promising strategy for increasing smoking cessation for Māori (Indigenous New Zealanders) and New Zealand resident Pacific Island people is Quit and Win competitions. The current uncontrolled pre and post study, WERO (WERO in Māori language means challenge), differs from previous studies in that it aims to investigate if a stop smoking contest, using both within team support, external support from a team coach and cessation experts, and technology, would be effective in prompting and sustaining quitting. METHOD: Fifteen teams, recruited from urban Māori, rural Māori and urban Pacific communities, competed to win a NZ$5000 (about € 3,000, £ 2600) prize for a charity or community group of their choice. People were eligible if they were aged 18 years and over and identified as smokers. Smoking status was biochemically validated at the start and end of the 3 month competition. At 3-months post competition self-reported smoking status was collected. RESULTS: Fourteen teams with 10 contestants and one team with eight contestants were recruited. At the end of the competition the biochemically verified quit rate was 36%. The 6 months self-reported quit rate was 26%. The Pacific and rural Māori teams had high end of competition and 6 months follow-up quit rates (46% and 44%, and 36% and 29%). CONCLUSION: WERO appeared to be successful in prompting quitting among high smoking prevalence groups. WERO combined several promising strategies for supporting cessation: peer support, cessation provider support, incentives, competition and interactive internet and mobile tools. Though designed for Māori and Pacific people, WERO could potentially be effective for other family- and community-centred cultures.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Public Health

Publication Date





Adolescent, Adult, Awards and Prizes, Charities, Competitive Behavior, Culture, Female, Group Processes, Health Promotion, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motivation, New Zealand, Oceanic Ancestry Group, Reward, Rural Population, Self Report, Smoking Cessation, Smoking Prevention, Social Support, Young Adult