A pilot scheme proposed by Cheshire East Council will see smokers paid up to £400 in cash to quit the habit for good.
The incentive scheme was discussed by the Adults and Health Committee on Monday, 30 May, as a report revealed 'approximately 10.5 percent of the general population and 10.8 percent of pregnant residents (at the time of birth) smoke' in Cheshire East.
The rates are 'similar to or worse than the national average and are no longer declining', the report explained, prompting the need to consider new approaches to reduce smoking.
'Robust evidence' cited in the report indicated financial inventive schemes are an 'effective method of helping people to quit' smoking, prompting the suggestion to offer cash to members of the public in a bid to encourage them to stop smoking.
"People receiving incentives (cash payments or vouchers for goods or groceries) were approximately 50% more likely to have stopped smoking than those who did not receive incentives," the report explained.
Participants in the scheme would have to take exhaled carbon monoxide tests to confirm they were quitting, and would be paid in instalments up to £200 for the general population and £400 for pregnant women.
The suggestion comes as smoking continues to be the leading cause of cancer and preventable death worldwide, as well as the 'most important modifiable risk factor in pregnancy'.
Should the incentive scheme go ahead, the report noted that it would align with Cheshire East Council's plans to reduce health inequalities across the borough and support children in having the best start in life, writing: "Reducing smoking rates in pregnant women will improve the short and longterm health outcomes of infants and their families."
Cheshire East Council currently encourages people to stop smoking through the One You Cheshire East service, which offers community classes and the opportunity to work with a Health Coach who will offer support, motivation and information about nicotine replacement products and other stop smoking medicines.
One You Cheshire East offers you and your family and friends FREE healthy living courses in your area to help you lose weight, become more active, improve your cookery skills, stop smoking and much more. Follow the link for more information https://t.co/xZdC4Qx6vN pic.twitter.com/ptcs3dGafz— FIS Cheshire East (@FISCheshireEast) November 7, 2019
The council notes smokers are 'three times more likely to succeed by working one-to-one or in a group with a Health Coach than going it alone'.
Following the discussion of the report yesterday, a formal decision report is set to be submitted on 18 July.
Approximately 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking each year, while many other smokers go on to live life with
debilitating smoking-related illnesses. It causes 70 percent of cases of lung cancer as well as being a leading cause of many other types of cancer.