Council to consider paying people in vouchers to stop smoking

Smoking pregnancy GettyImages 1178966283

Councillors agreed to consider the idea of trialling a smoking cessation incentive scheme, to start later this year, at the adults and health committee meeting on Monday, 30th May.

In Cheshire East, approximately 10.5 per cent of the general population and 10.8 per cent of pregnant residents (at the time of birth) smoke tobacco.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in England, with about half of all lifelong smokers dying prematurely, losing on average around 10 years of life. Smoking also costs the economy approximately £13bn a year, including costs of £3bn to the NHS and to social care.

Dr Matt Tyrer, director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said: "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.

"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.



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 31st May 2022 at 5:53 pm
Just to explain further.

This incentive will be funded by NHS England, not council tax. Therefore, this money cannot be spent on anything else.

Essentially, the NHS thinks this incentive will help more people quit smoking, which will both prolong their lives and good health, which will also reduce future medical costs.

Cheshire East has agreed to trial this idea, to see if it works and is cost effective.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Marc Staples
Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 1:21 pm
How can this be policed ?
Ade Whitaker
Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 4:19 pm
If it works then it appears to pay for itself so it sounds like a good experiment. Government legislation to fund the scheme via a levy on the tobacco industry profits would sit better with me though.
Mark Goldsmith
Thursday 2nd June 2022 at 9:22 am
Hi Marc

They measure the participants breath for carbon monoxide.

This gas is high in smokers, so it is monitored to see if the participant has actually quit or not.
Vince Chadwick
Sunday 5th June 2022 at 3:52 pm
I can't help but be sceptical of this scheme, well-intentioned though it may be. We've all heard the expression "it's easy to give up smoking. I've done it hundreds of times".

Is there a limit to the number of times a smoker can claim to have stopped, get checked to be C0 - free to verify they have been off the weed for a while, and claim the money? If they re-start (as many do) do they have to pay it back? If so, how is that policed?

Apart from that, I know myself it takes real willpower to become a non-smoker rather than a start - stop one and I don't think a financial incentive would have much effect. Especially considering there's already a considerable financial incentive to stop; the money saved in no longer buying those expensive cigarettes.

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