William Eichler 31 May 2022

Council considers paying residents to quit smoking

Council considers paying residents to quit smoking image
Image: Gorynvd/Shutterstock.com.

Cheshire East Council is considering the idea of trialling a smoking cessation incentive scheme to promote good health and to save the taxpayer money.

As well as being a leading cause of preventable illness, smoking costs the economy approximately £13bn a year, including costs of £3bn to the NHS and to social care.

In Cheshire East, approximately 10.5 per cent of the general population and 10.8 per cent of pregnant residents smoke.

Research by the health experts Cochrane Library analysed the results of 33 trials in eight countries, encompassing more than 21,000 participants trying to give up cigarettes. This included 10 trials looking at pregnant women trying to quit.

The study found people were 50% of participants were more likely to stop smoking when receiving a financial reward than those who were not. In pregnant women, quit rates for those receiving incentives were double that of those who did not.

Dr Matt Tyrer, director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said that the council was considering a voucher system to incentivise smokers to give up.

‘There is strong evidence showing that offering financial rewards to stop smoking, combined with regular carbon monoxide testing to prove smoking status, can be very effective in reducing smoking rates and achieving successful quits,’ he said.

‘We’re looking to consider a similar innovative approach by providing vouchers, as part of a wider package of support, 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 on 18 July 2022, which will set out the options for providing financial incentives to support smoking cessation.

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