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Could Cash Payments Spur Smokers to Quit Bad Habit?

© Photo : PixabaySmoking
Smoking - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2022
Smoking is a worldwide health bane that kills more than 8 million people every year, prompting the authorities to devise more ingenious ways to combat it.
Despite numerous inquiries and tonnes of methods on how to persuade people to stop smoking, it appears that a little extra money may be the most convincing, as novel Danish research has indicated that even a modest financial stimulus may help smokers quit their bad habit.
In a study in partnership with the Danish Cancer Society, smokers in three Danish municipalities were promised DKK 1,200 ($185) if they stopped smoking and remained smoke-free six weeks later.
By contrast, three other municipalities received financial support for large campaigns to persuade people to stop smoking. On an ongoing basis, the participants were examined using carbon monoxide tests, which can indicate whether they have smoked or not, to eliminate cheating.
The research found no significant difference in how many smokers were recruited, but significantly higher odds that citizens who received a financial reward quit their habit.
In the municipalities where smokers were rewarded for quitting, 32 percent of those who quit were non-smokers six months later, and 22 percent remained non-smokers one year later.
In the other three municipalities, the percentages were lower, at 22 and 18 percent, respectively, the survey showed.

"There is strong evidence for the effect. It greatly increases the chance of becoming smoke-free if there is a carrot hanging in front of one's nose", Professor Charlotta Pisinger of the Centre for Clinical Research and Prevention at Bispebjerg-Frederiksberg Hospital told TV2.

Niels Them Kjær of the Danish Cancer Society called it "a good investment" in the public sector.

"DKK 1,200 is not a lot of money, compared to what it costs to treat smokers for comorbidities", Them Kjær said in a statement.

Today, however, there is no legal basis for municipalities to provide a financial reward to people for quitting smoking. And that shouldn't be changed, Danish MPs said, despite the promising results.
Henrik Dahl of the Liberal Alliance said that the state must "stay out of people's homes and people's habits".
Lars Boje Mathiesen and Liselott Blixt of the New Right and the Danish People's Party representing the other side of the country's political spectrum, were likewise critical. The Health Ministry, though, said it noted the study.
Annual surveys in Denmark indicate a smoking prevalence of about 20 percent. Several years ago, the government announced "the most ambitious goal" of achieving a completely smoke-free youth by 2030.
Smoking-related diseases cost the lives of 13,000 Danes every year, according to the Danish Cancer Society. Worldwide, smoking kills more than 8 million people every year, according to the World Health Organisation.
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