Smokers offered £30 vouchers to give up

The Argus
8 February 2009

Smokers are being given £30 shopping vouchers if they successfully kick the habit.

Health bosses in East Sussex are handing out the vouchers to any adults who give up smoking.

Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the scheme and said it could have a major impact.

The initiative has been launched by East Sussex Downs and Weald NHS Trust and is open to all residents aged 18 and over.

Everyone who signs up has to take a carbon monoxide test to prove they smoke.

Four weeks later they are tested again and if they can prove they have not smoked they get the vouchers, which can be spent at Asda, Morrisons and Tesco on any products other than cigarettes, alcohol and petrol.

A spokeswoman for the health trust said: “Everybody who comes to the Stop Smoking Service has an assessment with an advisor about their smoking habits – how many cigarettes they smoke and how long have they smoked for.

“We are aiming to reach 900 quits in the area between January and March, so we have budgeted £27,000 for the voucher scheme.”

It runs until March 31 because the first quarter of the year is the time when the largest number of people try to quit.

The trust has failed to meet its stop smoking targets for the first half of 2008-09.

A spokeswoman for anti-smoking group ASH said it was the first incentive scheme she had heard of which was open to everyone.

But she said: “The idea of giving an incentive to people to quit is one that has been used before.

“It can make a big difference, especially in recession, when money as well as health is a reason people give for stopping smoking, especially for people in low incomes.”

In Brighton and Hove pregnant women and under-18s are offered £5 and £15 vouchers when they quit for at least four weeks.

Anna Fairhurst, manager of the city’s Stop Smoking Services, said: “We do give incentives and they do work.”

A spokesman for West Sussex PCT said the trust did not run an incentive scheme.

He added: “We are always discussing new ways to encourage people to become smoke-free and we will be very interested to see the scheme’s success in East Sussex.”

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