Rewards incentivise people to stop smoking

Published by  News Archive

On 17th Jul 2019

Financial incentives work to help people stop smoking and remain smoke free – according to research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Evidence published today in the Cochrane Library provides strong evidence that financial incentives helped people to stop smoking, and stay stopped long term.

The review also found that incentives helped pregnant women stop smoking.

Lead author Dr Caitlin Notley, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Smoking is the leading cause of disease and death worldwide. Most smokers want to quit, but stopping smoking can be really challenging.

“Quitting smoking can greatly improve peoples’ health. Rewards, such as money or vouchers, have been used to encourage smokers to quit, and to reward them if they stay stopped. Such schemes have been used in workplaces, in clinics and hospitals, and within community programmes.

“We wanted to know whether these schemes actually work long term, as previously it was thought that perhaps incentives only worked for the time that they were given. We found that they do help people stay smoke free, even after the incentive scheme ends.

“The cost of smoking to the economy is huge – around £13 billion to the UK economy, including over £3 billion for NHS and social care and £7.5 billion to lost productivity. So these types of schemes could help save money as well as lives.”

The team investigated whether rewards such as cash payments, vouchers, or the return of money deposited by those taking part, worked. The review summarizes the results from 33 randomised controlled trials involving more than 21,600 people from eight countries. They included ten trials that focused on pregnant smokers who were rewarded with vouchers for quitting and staying smoke free.

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.

Some of the studies did not provide enough data for the team to fully assess their quality. But taking out the lowest quality trials from the analysis did not change the results. The researchers say that the certainty of their findings in the general population is high. Their certainty about the findings in pregnant women is moderate, as there weren’t as many studies and some were lower quality.

Dr Notley said: “We found that six months or more after the beginning of the trials, people receiving rewards were approximately 50 per cent more likely to have stopped smoking than those in the control groups.  In people not receiving incentives, approximately 7% had successfully quit for six months or longer, compared to approximately 10.5% of those receiving incentives. This is an important increase when we consider the enormous harms of smoking, and benefits of quitting, and suggests that incentives can be a useful part of a comprehensive approach to help people quit smoking. Another really important thing is that success rates continued beyond when the incentives had ended.

The total financial amount of incentives varied considerably between trials, from zero (self-deposits), to a range of between £35 ($45 USD) and £912 ($1185).

Dr Notley added: “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 the birth has great benefits for babies too, through avoiding exposure to second hand smoke.”

The review was led by UEA, and involved researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Stirling.

Incentives for smoking cessation’ is published by the Cochrane Library on July 17, 2019.

Latest News

  News
Arctic ice
28 Oct 2021

Reviews highlight consequences of failing to tackle climate change

A set of scientific reviews published today reinforces the urgent need for global action to reduce the impact of climate change on vital carbon sinks, our oceans...

Read more >
  News
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medication.
27 Oct 2021

UEA research suggests beneficial impact of hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) reduces women’s risk of an early death by nine per cent – according to new UEA research.

Read more >
  News
A pregnant woman snaps a cigarette in half
26 Oct 2021

MiQuit launches to help expectant mums quit smoking

Our researchers have helped develop a text messaging service to help pregnant women quit smoking and improve the health of their baby.

Read more >
  News
digital image
25 Oct 2021

UEA leads on UK-India Future Telecom Network partnership 

A £1.4-million project will support the integration of high-speed communications networks in India.  

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
digital image
25 Oct 2021

UEA leads on UK-India Future Telecom Network partnership 

A £1.4-million project will support the integration of high-speed communications networks in India.  

Read more >
  News

Common antidepressant should no longer be used to treat dementia 

A drug used to treat agitation in people with dementia is no more effective than a placebo.

Read more >
  News
Tall rainforest trees
18 Oct 2021

Dr Nem Vaughan awarded Philip Leverhulme prize

The prestigious award recognises outstanding researchers.

Read more >
  News
Ziggurats and trees on UEA campus
15 Oct 2021

UEA’s great outdoors celebrated for a fifth straight year with international Green Flag award

The last 18 months have placed more value on green spaces than ever, and students arriving at the University of East Anglia (UEA) for the new academic year can...

Read more >
  News
Power station chimney emitting smoke
12 Oct 2021

How recovery from COVID-19’s impact on energy demand could help meet climate targets

New research examines different scenarios of energy-related demand and how they could impact climate mitigation targets.

Read more >
  News
House in Brazilian Amazonia.
07 Oct 2021

Study reveals impact of wild meat consumption on greenhouse gas emissions

Consuming sustainably sourced wild meat instead of domesticated livestock reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more >
  News
27 Sep 2021

Children who eat more fruit and veg have better mental health

Children who eat a better diet, packed with fruit and vegetables, have better mental wellbeing – according to new research from the University of East Anglia...

Read more >