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28th Jan 2015

Should pregnant women be paid to quit smoking?

Incentives made women more likely to quit for good

Katie Mythen-Lynch

Pregnant women are more likely to kick the habit if they are offered financial incentives, according to new research.

In the largest study of its kind so far, involving 600 women in the Scottish city of Glasgow, study participants were offered £400 in shopping vouchers if they ceased smoking. Smokers who were offered the incentive were more than twice as likely to quit.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that, of the women who quit smoking and received the vouchers, 15% were still non-smokers one year later. This compared to just 4% of the mothers who did not receive an incentive.

Statistics show that women who smoke during pregnancy give birth to smaller babies than non-smokers. Cigarette smoke can also damage the placenta, which reduces the supply of oxygen available to the foetus in the womb.