Pregnant women are to be given £400 vouchers to quit smoking

·2-min read

Pregnant women are to be given shopping vouchers up to a value of £400 if they give up smoking, as part of a new NHS campaign.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended the incentive is rolled out alongside other anti-smoking measures like education, behavioural support and the use of e-cigarettes.

NICE says the voucher incentive is effective, according to trials and research.

"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," the guidance states.

Research suggests that overall, out of every 1,000 pregnant women offered vouchers, 177 would stop smoking.

The guidance states that pregnant women being offered the incentive should have to undergo biochemical tests to prove they have given up smoking before receiving the vouchers.

A caveat, though, is that if tests are too difficult to administer, because of the pandemic, the vouchers should be given away regardless.

Photo credit: Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography - Getty Images

The scheme is already being trialled some parts of the UK, but the NICE recommendations mean that now, NHS services are obliged to consider offering it across the board.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of NICE’s centre for guidelines, said: “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.

"We know that around 10% 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.

Photo credit: LWA/Dann Tardif - Getty Images
Photo credit: LWA/Dann Tardif - Getty Images

"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," he added.

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

Reach out to your local NHS providers to find out if the vouchers are currently available in your area, and for advice and support around giving up smoking, speak to your GP and visit the NHS website.

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