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Financial incentives for pregnant women to stop smoking ‘highly cost effective’

Shopping vouchers given to pregnant women to incentivise them to stop smoking are ‘highly cost effective’ a University of Glasgow study has found.

The scheme’s cost effectiveness ratio was found to be £482 per quality adjusted life year (QALY), well inside NICE guidance of £20,000 per QALY, according to a study published in scientific journal Addiction.

The report was based on a trial of 600 pregnant smokers, half of whom received up to £400 in vouchers for quitting during pregnancy.

Those offered financial incentives quit smoking at a much higher rate than those not offered incentives (22.5% compared with 8.6%).

Self-reported relapse rates six months after giving birth were also much lower among those women who had received the vouchers, at 33% compared with 54%.

An analysis of the cost effectiveness of the scheme found that the incentives were a sound financial investment.

Authors of the study, from the University of Glasgow and University of Stirling, said in January that it showed ‘substantial evidence of a very promising and potentially cost-effective new intervention’, but the Royal College of Midwives said the scheme was ‘not ideal’.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Next pay obese patients to loose weight, pay criminals to stop crime, pay, pay, pay...How about allowing people to take responsibility for their actions and allow them to pay the price for their stupidity? Tough love works.

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  • I think this is fascinating. We don't question paying a fortune for diabetic drugs where lifestyle interventions can be substantially more effective in some cases, and yet we balk at this.
    If crime was acquisitive in nature, there would be some sense in providing a meaningful route to gain (eg employment) if it broke the cycle of public costs.
    Should we also withdraw bariatric surgery from the NHS?

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