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01 September 2010

CZECH finalist wins European Smokefree Quitter award 2008

Milos Hlohovsky, from Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic, beat hundreds of European ex-smokers to become the European Smokefree Quitter of the Year.

He was presented with ?15,000 of holiday vouchers at the prize ceremony in Artis Congress Centre in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Milos, 67, beat ten other finalists, including ex-smokers from Iceland, Poland, Latvia and the UK*, to win the Award. He was presented with his prize by Professor Els Borst the former Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport for the Netherlands.

Milos smoked for 48 years before quitting in 2005. At this point he was smoking 20-25 cigarettes a day. His wife bought him nicotine patches from the pharmacy she works in.

He said: ?I was very rarely seen without a cigarette in my hand. The turning point came one day. I was taking my wife to our home town and realized when I closed our garage gate, I already had a cigarette in my mouth.

I smoked another one while waiting for the bus and then when I got off the bus I lit another cigarette. When I came home I sat down at the table and reached for another packet of cigarettes! I decided to quit that day and since then I haven?t smoked.

He added: ?My life has been much better since. I have fresh breath and I do not smell of smoke. After a month I could fully breathe in without an irritating cough. When I quit smoking, I realized how unfit I had become, so I started to exercise and develop my muscles. I can now do dips and pull-ups on the horizontal bar outside of my cottage without a problem!?

?My wife is really pleased I have quit smoking too and I have encouraged several of my friends to stop or reduce their smoking. My doctor is also glad as my blood pressure is now like a young man! A big part of my decision to quit is my wife, so I think she deserves this prize more than me?

The European Smokefree Awards 2008 is run by countries from the European Network of Quitlines, which was set up in 2000 to maximise collaboration between countries providing Quitline services and to help develop new Quitlines.

The winners were chosen by an independent selection panel of Program Director from the California Smokers? Helpline Christopher Anderson; Hans Gilljam from the Swedish Tobacco Prevention Center; and Gay Sutherland, Research Psychologist at the Tobacco Research Unit, Kings College London.

Smokers inspired by Milos should ring 0800 002200 for friendly help and advice on how to quit.