Study – Financial Incentives Motivate Pregnant Smokers to Stop Smoking

A recent study in the BMJ found that pregnant women are more likely to quit smoking if they receive shopping vouchers. Mmm hmmm.

Specifically, if Group A includes pregnant women offered routine smoking cessation counselling, and Group B includes pregnant women offered routine smoking cessation counselling AND up to £400 (AUD 800) of shopping vouchers*, then by the time of delivery, the women in Group B are 2.6 time more likely to have quit smoking.

Is it right for taxpayer money to be used as bribes (because that’s what they are) for pregnant smokers? Addiction is complex, no doubt, but some would say that your own health (and even if you didn’t care about that, then the health of your unborn child) would (SHOULD) be a more important motivator for smoking cessation than say, shopping vouchers (which ironically can be used to purchase more cigarettes. Or booze. Or crack… OK, maybe not crack.)

I’m not interested in hearing about “how hard it is to quit” or even “just need a little ciggie to take the edge off” (the edge off what… PREGNANCY?). It’s your kid dude.  You cannot claim to love your unborn child and then smoke whilst pregnant. It just doesn’t work that way.

I’m sorry, I digress… let me put it to you – if each pregnant smoker could receive up to AUD 800 from the government to stop smoking during pregnancy (with no guarantee that she wouldn’t light up the instant she gave birth/ smoke around her kids/ smoke during her next pregnancy, etc.), would you be happy for your tax dollars to be spent this way?


This ad is vague (and kind of weak). It implies that if you smoke during pregnancy, you just need to wack your baby in an incubator and all will be OK… We need to get more specific and graphic about the risks of smoking during pregnancy.


Tappin David, Bauld Linda, Purves David, Boyd Kathleen, Sinclair Lesley, MacAskill Susan et al. Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy: randomised controlled trial BMJ 2015; 350 :h134

* “Incentive” breakdown
£50 for attending a face to face appointment and setting a quit date
Another £50 if at four weeks’ post-quit date exhaled carbon monoxide confirmed quitting
A further £100 was provided for continued validated abstinence of exhaled carbon monoxide after 12 weeks
A final £200 voucher was provided for validated abstinence of exhaled carbon monoxide at 34-38 weeks’ gestation

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