England - program to pay pregnant women not to smoke seems hopeful..

July 24, 2009 - Mother (mum)-to-be are always warned of the dangers of smoking while pregnant but a surprising number still choose to do it. Some women find quitting easy when they're expecting, but for others beating the nicotine cravings seems impossible.

So a Department of Health funded initiative with cash rewards of up to £200 (328.545USD) is now being trialled by 12 Stop Smoking services in the Yorkshire and Humber areas - which hold some of the highest rates of women who smoke during pregnancy. (England - pregnant women getting paid to stop smoking..)

Called the Significant Others Supporters (SOS), the scheme hopes to persuade pregnant women to stop smoking and to help ensure they stay away from cigarettes permanently - and if it's successful, it could be rolled out across the country. In the scheme, pregnant smokers will also be assigned a SOS, who could be a relation or close friend, whose aim is to keep the pregnant woman smoke-free. As an incentive to be a reliable supporter the SOS will also be entitled to a £40 (65.72USD) financial reward. And none of these vouchers can be used to pay for tobacco or alcohol.

Under the initiative - funded by a £100,000 Department of Health grant - "Vulnerable pregnant smokers" will be able to claim high-street shopping vouchers if they kick the habit for good. Some might think it's bribery, but others feel it's an effective way to cut the problem.

Scope of problem: - based on the Infant Feeding Survey 2005 states that just over a third of mothers (35%) in England smoked at some point in the 12 months immediately before or during their pregnancy. Of mothers who smoked before or during their pregnancy, about half (49%) gave up at some point before the birth. 14.3% of mothers were smoking at delivery during 2007/08.
Professor Paul Johnstone, Regional Director of Public Health NHS Yorkshire and Humber, says: "Protecting unborn babies is worth every penny. Many women manage to stop smoking as soon as they find out that they are pregnant but some find it hard to stay off cigarettes. "There is strong evidence that giving a small additional incentive can help."

While it's still in the early stages, initial reports seem to be looking hopeful.

Reference: Should pregnant women be paid to stop smoking? Exclusive: By Claire Dunwell, Mirror.co.uk, 7/23/2009.

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