A local North West council is said to be considering the idea of trialling an incentive scheme where residents will be paid to quit smoking.
With recent data showing that smoking is not only a leading cause of a number of preventable illnesses, but it also costs the economy approximately £13 billion a year – including costs of £3 billion to the NHS and to social care – Cheshire East Council is apparently looking to try out something new to tackle the problem.
It is considering trialling a smoking cessation incentive scheme to promote good health.
It comes after research by health experts Cochrane Library analysed the results of 33 trials in eight countries with more than 21,000 participants trying to give up cigarettes, and found 50% of people were more likely to stop smoking if they received some form of a financial reward than those who were not.
The study also included 10 trials looking at pregnant people trying to quit smoking, and found that in this case, quit rates for those receiving incentives were double that of those who did not.
In Cheshire East, it’s said that approximately 10.5% of the general population and 10.8% of pregnant residents smoke, which is presumably why the Council is looking at alternative ways to get people to quit.
“There is strong evidence showing that offering financial rewards stops smoking,” said Dr Matt Tyrer – Director of Public Health at Cheshire East Council.
“Combined with regular carbon monoxide testing to prove smoking status, this can be very effective in reducing smoking rates and achieving successful quits [so] we’re looking to consider a similar innovative approach by providing vouchers as part of a wider package of support.
“[This is] to encourage people to quit smoking for good and ultimately make our residents’ lives healthier and happier.
“Providing vouchers for relatively small sums of money to encourage people to quit smoking is highly cost-effective, because the long-term health benefits of quitting smoking are so great, along with the financial savings of more than £4,500 a year for someone who used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day.
“Quitting smoking is also one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby’s health through pregnancy and beyond.”
The Adults and Health Committee will consider a further report setting out the options for providing financial incentives on 18 July 2022.
Featured Image – Flickr