Pregnant Women In Britain Given �400 In Shopping Vouchers To Quit Smoking - S

A trial where pregnant smokers were given £400 in shopping vouchers was deemed so successful at getting women to quit that it will likely be rolled out to other parts of the UK.

The controversial scheme was tested with a group of over 600 pregnant smokers in “materially deprived” parts of Glasgow and Clyde.

Half of the group were given routine treatment and assistance, while the other group were given the same thing plus £400 worth of Love2shop vouchers. The vouchers, handed out at various stages as incentives, could be used by the pregnant women in popular high street shops like Argos, Debenhams and Boots.

Patients in the test group receiving the vouchers were given £50 for going to an appointment and setting a quit date, £50 if after four weeks a carbon monoxide reading showed that they had quit and another £100 for staying off cigarettes for 12 more weeks. A further £200 was given to patients who, when tested, were shown to be still abstinent at 34-38 weeks.

22% of the women who were offered vouchers stopped smoking. This compared with 8.6% for the other group who were given the routine NHS treatment.

Following the trial the researchers recommended that it be rolled out to different parts of the UK. It’s the largest study of its kind testing the effectiveness of using financial incentivisation to get pregnant women to kick smoking.

“We need to make sure that this intervention works in other places, so we’ve planned a trial in other places including Northern Ireland, Lanarkshire, Nottingham and south London… to see if the intervention works in all those places,” Glasgow University’s Prof David Tappin, who was part of the research team said.

“If we get funding, we would aim to start that in August 2015.”

But, the scheme is not without its critics. In a statement emailed to Mashable, The Royal College of Midwives described it as “not ideal.”

“Individuals would normally be interested in improving their health and the health of their families if we are able to explain in clear non-judgemental terms what the health consequences are of continued smoking,” Janet Fyle, RCM’s professional policy advisor said.

“Can we afford to incentivise behavioural change when the amount of potentially damaging lifestyle choices that people make could be almost limitless? What is also needed is a greater investment in prevention and in the health, educational and social care staff needed to promote the health and well-being of individuals.”

The number of women in the UK who smoke while pregnant has declined from 12.7% in 2014 to 12% in 2013, continuing a trend of decline from 2006-2007 when it was 15.1%, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.