Council to consider paying people in vouchers to stop smoking

Smoking pregnancy GettyImages 1178966283

Councillors agreed to consider the idea of trialling a smoking cessation incentive scheme, to start later this year, at the adults and health committee meeting on Monday, 30th May.

In Cheshire East, approximately 10.5 per cent of the general population and 10.8 per cent of pregnant residents (at the time of birth) smoke tobacco.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in England, with about half of all lifelong smokers dying prematurely, losing on average around 10 years of life. Smoking also costs the economy approximately £13bn a year, including costs of £3bn to the NHS and to social care.

Dr Matt Tyrer, director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said: "There is strong evidence showing that offering financial rewards to stop smoking, combined with regular carbon monoxide testing to prove smoking status, can be very effective in reducing smoking rates and achieving successful quits.

"We're looking to consider a similar innovative approach by providing vouchers, as part of a wider package of support, to encourage people to quit smoking for good and ultimately make our residents' lives healthier and happier.

"Providing vouchers for relatively small sums of money to encourage people to quit smoking is highly cost-effective, because the long-term health benefits of quitting smoking are so great, along with the financial savings of more than £4,500 a year for someone who used to smoke 20 cigarettes a day.

"Quitting smoking is also one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect their baby's health through pregnancy and beyond."

The adults and health committee will consider a further report on 18 July 2022, which will set out the options for providing financial incentives to support smoking cessation.



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Michael Blomeley
Wednesday 1st June 2022 at 5:07 pm
This might be well intended, but must be one of the most ridiculous ideas to have been proposed. Sadly our elected representatives seem to have lost their marbles too.
What is needed is just willpower. I write as someone who tried & failed to quit many times, until finally I did it.
Offering money is no way to approach the problem. The first benefit any quitter has is a huge saving from not buying tobacco products, so why does anyone think a financial bung is going to do anything more?
By all means give out patches, gum etc., to help with the nicotine withdrawal, along with practical support, but for heaven's sake drop the nonsense of paying people. You can't buy will power.
Vince Chadwick
Sunday 5th June 2022 at 2:28 pm
I think Michael Blomeley has a valid point. How often do you hear "giving up smoking is easy. I've done it hundreds of times".

If our smoker has a real desire to become a non-smoker they will do, though they may suffer a few relapses before finally kicking the habit. Otherwise, they may stop smoking temporarily as many do while no doubt intending for 'this to be the last and final time', get tested as fag-free and collect the prize money, then succumb to the weed again some weeks later. One wonders if the pay-out can be claimed more than once?

The only way to give up is to really want to be a non-smoker, as I did 50 years ago (after a few false starts). It wasn't easy, in fact it was a real struggle to succeed, but being paid to do it would not have been relevant. That's especially so nowadays with the considerable amount of money you'll save on no longer buying cigarettes.
Craig Browne
Monday 6th June 2022 at 2:45 pm
Hi Michael,

Thanks for your observations. I would be inclined to agree with you, were it not for the fact that the funding for this has come to Cheshire East Council in the form of a public health grant from the NHS, specifically for the purpose outlined above. This means that the funds have not been raised through Council Tax and cannot be spent on other issues, e.g. road repairs or parks maintenance. Of course, the Council could simply refuse the funds and hand them back; however, taking such an approach would not be without risk and could affect any future public health funding that Cheshire East Council wished to access.

Kind regards,