Daniel Magrin from Malta, has beaten hundreds of European ex-smokers to become the European Smokefree Quitter of the Year. He was presented with €5,000 of holiday vouchers at the prize ceremony in Barcelona, Spain on Monday, March 1.
Father of two Daniel, 33, beat 12 other finalists, including ex-smokers from Spain, Italy and the UK to win the award. Daniel started smoking regularly at 15-years-old, and was soon smoking 25 a day. Previously passionate about football, basketball and swimming, Daniel’s smoking meant he swapped his love of sport for pool, beer and cigarettes.
Daniel said he was a “slave” to cigarettes, remembering: “One particular period, I woke up in the middle of the night, smoked one or two cigarettes and went back to sleep. If I didn’t have cigarettes, I would drive as much as it took to find them, and I had to go outside rain or shine, every few minutes to have my cigarette.”
Daniel had tried to stop smoking on previous occasions, but in June 2009, he succeeded. He suffered from health worries including reduced lung capacity, headaches and shortness of breath and said: “I couldn’t live with the knowledge that in 10-20 years, I would be facing more serious health problems which were self induced.”
Daniel also wanted to set a good example to his two young daughters. “I had to take action”, he said.
In order to encourage himself to quit smoking for good, Daniel helped to set up a stop smoking programme at his workplace, which also inspired other s to quit smoking. He said: “Enticing my friends and colleagues to stop as well and to all support each other helped me through the first few weeks.
“I believe my initiative at work is commendable, and people should do their part by sharing their experiences and helping them overcome this habit.”
Daniel has now been smoke free for 8 months, and has noticed an improvement in his smell, taste and health. He said: “I have started walking and jogging again. I do not cough in the morning any longer and the everyday worries about my health have greatly diminished. It feels great and I am proud to say that I am a non smoker.”
Runner up – Netherlands
Cynthia Daals of the Netherlands won €1,000 of holiday vouchers. Cynthia felt her life was consumed by smoking, never more so than when her father died from lung cancer. Cynthia wanted to live a long and healthy life for her children and family and resolved to quit. She quit with the support of Dutch helpline STIVORO.
Runner up – UK
Barbara Cowell from Manchester in the UK also won €1,000 of holiday vouchers. Barbara quit smoking after a cancer scare. At a routine dental visit, white spots were found under Barbara’s tongue, which was diagnosed as the early stages of mouth cancer. Barbara decided to quit immediately and although it wasn’t easy, has changed her lifestyle for the better. She has also been given the all clear.
European Smokefree Progress Award
The award recognizes the achievements of people who have made a contribution to smokefree policy in Europe. This award was won by Pieter Amir from the Netherlands. Pieter has campaigned for a change in approaches to stopping smoking amongst patients and staff in a mental health facility and introduced the first stop smoking project in a psychiatric institution in The Netherlands.
The European Smokefree Supporter Award
This award recognizes the work of health professionals who help people stop smoking, and was given to Lynne Speirs from the UK. Lynne is a healthcare assistant and runs a successful stop smoking programme Quit for Life. Patients often feedback on how supportive and positive Lynne’s interventions are.
The winners were chosen by an independent selection panel of Program Director from the California Smokers’ Helpline Christopher Anderson; Beate Simonsen from Danish quitline STOP-Linien; and Gay Sutherland, Research Psychologist at the Tobacco Research Unit, Kings College London.
The European Smokefree Awards 2009 is run by countries from the European Network of Quitlines (ENQ) which was set up in 2000 to maximise collaboration between countries providing Quitline services and to help develop new Quitlines.