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Smokers become more successful non-smokers if they are paid for it
Smoking is harmful to our health. For this reason, it would be highly advisable for everyone to quit smoking. Unfortunately, it is not easy to cope with the addiction to cigarettes and many people try to quit smoking several times in their lives, but mostly in vain. Researchers have now found that a financial incentive would make many smokers ready to quit smoking.
Scientists from Stanford University Medical School in California have now found that many smokers would quit smoking if they received money for it. So if smoking cessation spending were less than the cost of treating the consequences of smoking, it could actually be worth paying smokers to quit smoking. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "Journal of the American College of Cardiology" (JACC).
More than a third of the paid subjects quit smoking
Is it possible to use a financial incentive to stop people from smoking? During an investigation, doctors from Switzerland found that more than a third of the subjects who smoked could be made to stop smoking by making payments. In the group of smokers with a relatively low income, payments made more than a third break with the harmful long-term habit. The maximum amount of money paid out was $ 1,650. So financial incentives could increase long-term smoking cessation rates, the authors say.
44 percent of the paid non-smokers are still abstinent even after three months
Even three months after the weaning program ended, 44 percent of ex-smokers were abstinent if they were paid beforehand. If subjects were not paid, this value was only six percent. Even after payments were discontinued after six months, more smokers who were paid remained abstinent.
After six months, 36 percent of the paid participants still don't smoke
After six months, 36 percent of the subjects paid still did not smoke. In the case of unpaid subjects, the value was only six percent. After eighteen months, only one in ten of the paid participants smoked, the scientists explain. This value was significantly higher for previously unpaid smokers. Given these results, the impact of major financial incentives to quit smoking should be further explored and documented.
Before the study, participants smoked around 16 cigarettes a day
The study included 805 low-income subjects who all wanted to quit smoking. They were randomly divided into two different groups, one group received payment and the other group received no payment, the authors say. On average, participants had an annual income of over $ 20,000. The subjects smoked an average of about 16 cigarettes a day. 43 percent of the respondents were students and 19 percent of the people taking part were unemployed. It is not known whether the same incentives would work for wealthier people, the experts add.
Subjects were checked at irregular intervals for their abstinence from tobacco
All participants received instructional brochures and access to a website with information about smoking. The subjects were checked at irregular intervals to determine whether they were still smoking cigarettes. Although many participants did not quit smoking and 81 people dropped out of the study, there were still a significant number of subjects who were willing to quit smoking when paid for it, the researchers explain.
Cost of weaning
Paying smokers for quitting has at least short-term success, explains author Professor Dr. Judith Prochaska from Stanford University Medical School in California. However, the results raise some questions. For example, how big and how often should the payments be? After 18 months, the difference in abstinence between paid and unpaid smokers was six percent. Prochaska explains that it could cost up to $ 28,000 to make a long-term smoker a non-smoker. Despite the high cost, payments could be a productive alternative for certain smokers, the expert added.
The reward program could create real incentives for some people
Existing approaches to smoking cessation with medication and advice could be more effective for educated workers with health insurance and higher incomes, says Prochaska. However, because many smokers are increasingly people with little education and low income, a remuneration program could make sense, explains Prochaska. Tobacco addiction is a deeply rooted social problem, which requires a multi-pronged approach, the doctor continues. A suitable approach to combating smoking would be a combined pharmacological and motivational treatment of smoking behavior. This should then be supported by political regulations, taxes and new innovations and technologies. The incentives have the potential to be part of the solution, Prochaska adds. (as)