Financial incentives would motivate half of smokers to quit, suggests a study.
Researchers at The University of East Anglia's Medical School suggest that smokers would give up cigarettes in the long term if financial incentives were offered.
The research, published in Cochrane Library, looked at data from 33 trials in eight countries. Over 21,000 participants (including pregnant women) trying to give up tobacco were followed. Half of the participants were rewarded with vouchers for quitting and staying smoke-free.The total financial amount of incentives varied between trials, from £35 and £912.
All of the trials in the general population followed participants for at least six months and those who quit were checked by testing their breath or bodily fluids.
After six months, those who accepted the rewards were around 50% more likely to quit smoking.
For those not receiving incentives, 7% had successfully quit for six months or longer, compared to approximately 10.5% of those who collected rewards.
The scientists found that the amount offered did not affect the chance of quitting. Even small rewards increased the likelihood of a smoker quitting.
Lead author Dr Caitlin Notley, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Most smokers want to quit, but stopping can be really challenging. We found that incentive schemes do help people stay smoke-free, even after the incentive scheme ends."
"For pregnant women, we also found that women in the rewards groups were more likely to stop smoking than those in control groups - both at the end of the pregnancy and after the birth of the baby, suggesting incentives may be a useful part of a comprehensive approach to helping pregnant women quit smoking. Stopping smoking during pregnancy is the best thing that women can do to improve their chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Staying stopped after birth has great benefits for babies too, through avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke."