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25th Jun 2021

Pregnant women could be given £400 in shopping vouchers to help them quit smoking

Kieran Galpin

“Suddenly I’m Pregnant”

According to Public Health England (PHE), offering financial incentives to pregnant women can be effective in helping them to quit smoking. It’s “both effective and cost-effective,” says PHE and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

This policy is already in place throughout some regions, with many saying that “voucher incentives were acceptable to many pregnant women and healthcare providers.” Experts say that before being issues vouchers, the women should undergo tests to ensure they have actually quit smoking and are not simply trying to cheat the system.

“Evidence from the UK showed that schemes in which a maximum of around £400 could be gained in vouchers staggered over time (with reductions for each relapse made) were effective and cost-effective.”

For every 1,000 pregnant women offered the coupons, 177 would stop smoking, research suggests.

Dr Paul Chrisp, the director of the National Insitute for Health and Care Excellence, had the following to say to LBC on smoking among the British public:

“These draft guideline recommendations are a renewed effort to reduce the health burden of smoking and to encourage and support people to give up smoking.

“Smoking continues to take a huge toll on the health of the nation and accounts for approximately half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest in society. It is therefore vitally important that we reduce the level of smoking in this country.

“We know that around 10 per cent of women are known to be smokers at the time of giving birth and, given the significant health effects of smoking on both mothers and babies, it is clear that further efforts are required to encourage this group to give up smoking.

“We need to use every tool in our arsenal to reduce smoking rates, including education, behavioural support, financial incentives, and e-cigarettes if people are interested in using them.

“Combined, we hope that people who smoke will feel enabled to give up tobacco products once and for all.”

This is part of a wider conversation at the moment, where smoking is starting to look like a thing of the past. Moves to ban smoking in beer gardens are becoming more prominent, so it’s only a matter of time before more rigid and serious regulation comes into effect.