Danish groups want to pay smokers to quit - The Post

Danish groups want to pay smokers to quit

Pilot program would mirror US trials that achieved positive results

Smokers could get paid to quit blowing smoke rings (photo: Andrew Vargas)
August 10th, 2015 8:47 am| by Ray W

Public safety charity TrygFonden and Kræftens Bekæmpelse, the cancer society, want to finance a program that would pay smokers to quit.

They point to programs in the US where paying smokers, sometimes as much as 13,000 kroner, to give up the cigs has achieved great success.

“For some it might be controversial, but the prospect of financial gain is a powerful motivator,” Kræftens Bekæmpelse project head Niels Them Kjær told Berlingske. “If Danish trials confirm the good American results, I have no problem with the method.”

Show me the money
TrygFonden also found the US results compelling and said they are willing to fund a trial effort to see if getting paid will encourage smokers to quit.

In the US trials, employees are paid based on how long they remain smoke-free – the more time they go without lighting up, the more they are paid. They are tested regularly for traces of nicotine in their blood.

READ MORE: More Danes leaning towards banning tobacco sales

The project has been written up in the New England Journal of Medicine, which reported that 16 percent of the participants managed to stay completely away from tobacco for at least six months. In a control group, only six percent remained smoke-free for the same amount of time.

“Slippery slope”
Despite the positive results, some think it is folly to pay people to improve their own lifestyle.

“Smoking is expensive, and that alone should encourage people to quit,” said the health minister, Sophie Løhde. “I think it is a slippery slope to start paying people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”