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Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h134 (Published 27 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h134

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Re: Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy: randomised controlled trial

Tappin et al in their well designed study provide evidence of the effectiveness of financial incentives in supporting pregnant women in quitting smoking. If corroborated by further studies and if found to be cost effective, financial incentives to quit smoking may well be worth incorporating into health policy.

The authors acknowledge, however, the potential for unintended consequences and for "gaming" when financial incentives such as those in this study are offered. Should such an intervention become policy, it could create an incentive for non-current smokers to start smoking, in order to qualify for the financial incentives. It may well be that recommencing smoking in this context would be intended to be short term. A proportion of such smokers could end up dependant in the long term. Such an outcome would be very concerning. This question may be worthy of further study.

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 March 2015
Scott M Walkin
GP
Sligo Specialist Training Programme in General Practice
Ballina, Co Mayo, Rep of Ireland