News | 8 months ago

In a pilot project in the UK city of Stoke-on-Trent, pregnant women are being offered up to £260 in shopping vouchers for agreeing to stay off cigarettes for the duration of their pregnancy and a further 12 weeks after their babies arrive.

As of yet, at least 65 women in the city have the taxpayer-funded vouchers, available for use in shops including Argos, Debenhams, New Look and TK Maxx. The Sun reports that this has, so far, cost the local council upwards of £17,000.

According to the newspaper, the vouchers are paid in instalments for every two weeks a mother-to-be goes smoke -free, and to make sure they have not been smoking, the participants have to agree to being carbon monoxide tested every two weeks.

“This is a pilot intended to encourage pregnant women to agree a quit date and sustain it for at least 12 weeks after they have given birth," councillor Ann James, a cabinet member for health and social care in the city, explains.

“People who take part receive shopping vouchers for every week they go smoke-free, as an incentive to carry on. Studies on voucher-based reinforcement therapy offer compelling evidence that positive reinforcement with shopping vouchers creates positive changes in behaviour, and we want to see if this approach can improve child health in Stoke-on-Trent.”

As well as this, if they complete the course, the participants' partner or a friend will also receive £40 worth of vouchers for offering their support.


The Healthier Futures Supporting a Smokefree Pregnancy scheme is part of an extended effort by the city of Stoke-on-Trent to cut the number of smoking-related child deaths in the local area, such as premature birth, poor birth weight, birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome.

As well as the direct dangers smoking mothers pose to their children, smoking is also linked to a number of costly, complicated deliveries at hospitals.

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