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Norwich scientists discover how to stop people smoking - pay them

PUBLISHED: 10:50 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:54 17 July 2019

Scientists from Norwich have found that people are more likely to stop smoking and stay smoke free if theyre are paid to. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Scientists from Norwich have found that people are more likely to stop smoking and stay smoke free if theyre are paid to. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

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Scientists from Norwich may have finally cracked how to stop people smoking - pay them.

Mark Nickerson, from Great Yarmouth. Picture: staffMark Nickerson, from Great Yarmouth. Picture: staff

The study, which was led by scientists from the University of East Anglia's Norwich Medical School, found strong evidence showing that financial incentives not only helped people stop smoking, but also made them more likely to remain smoke-free in the long run.

Investigating the effect of cash payments - ranging from £35 to more than £900 - vouchers and the return of money deposited by smokers, the study involved more than 21,600 people across eight different countries.

It also included a number of trials which focused solely on pregnant smokers.

Dr Caitlin Notley, from UEA, said while rewards to encourage people to quit smoking had been used before, the researchers wanted to know if the method worked long term.

Gareth McDermott, from Norwich. Picture: StaffGareth McDermott, from Norwich. Picture: Staff

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She said: "We found that [incentive schemes] do help people stay smoke-free, even after the incentive scheme ends.

"We found that six months or more after the beginning of the trials, people receiving rewards were approximately 50pc more likely to have stopped smoking than those in the control groups.

"In people not receiving incentives, approximately seven per cent had successfully quit for six months or longer, compared to approximately 10.5pc of those receiving incentives."

In Norwich, people agreed that incentives were a good way to encourage smokers to quit, but many had concerns about the way incentives might be funded or given.

Gareth McDermott, 39 and from Norwich, said: "The best incentive is probably to offer vouchers that people can choose from, so that they can get what they specifically want or need. Giving people cash could just encourage them to continue their bad habits. It's difficult to stop and people should be supported if they try to."

Mark Nickerson, 39 and from Great Yarmouth, agreed and said: "Giving people incentives is a really good idea. I think the best incentive would be to offer vouchers that encourage a healthier lifestyle, such as healthy food vouchers."

But Rebecca Carver, 21 and from Norwich, said she said had concerns about who would pay. She said: "Cash would surely be the biggest incentive to stop smoking but I don't think that it should be paid for by the NHS. Also what about non-smokers? Should they get a reward for not smoking?"

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