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How to get pregnant women to quit smoking? Pay them

More than 20% of the women offered vouchers kicked the habit, compared with 9% given normal NHS support alone.

Image: Shutterstock/Zurijeta

NEW RESEARCH HAS found that pregnant women are more likely to quit smoking if they’re paid.

The BMJ study found financial incentives such as shopping vouchers were far more effective in getting expectant mothers to quit smoking than if they were just offered traditional support on Britain’s NHS.

Over 600 pregnant smokers in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde who were at least 16 years of age and less than 24 weeks pregnant took part.

One group of 303 women (the control group) received routine care – which was the offer of a face to face appointment to discuss smoking and cessation and the offer of free nicotine replacement therapy for 10 weeks and four weekly support phone calls.

The other 306 women (the intervention group) received routine care plus the offer of up to £400 of shopping vouchers.

They received £50 for attending a face to face appointment and setting a quit date; then another £50 if at four weeks’ post-quit date exhaled carbon monoxide confirmed quitting; a further £100 was provided after 12 weeks and a final £200 voucher was provided at 34-38 weeks’ gestation.

The study found, “more smokers in the incentives group than control group stopped smoking: 69 (22.5%) versus 26 (8.6%).”

The women used the vouchers at High Street stores such as Iceland, Argos and Mothercare.

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Of 125,000 spontaneous miscarriages that occur each year in the United Kingdom, 25,000 are associated with smoking during pregnancy.

Methodology has been developed to run a definitive multicentre trial to examine generalisability and cost effectiveness in the United Kingdom.

Read: Fall in numbers of children and pregnant women smoking in Ireland>

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