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Financial Rewards Helps Employees Kick Smoking Habit

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Money and quitting smoking

Companies with a desire to help employees stop smoking might consider offering financial rewards. A new trial shows that money may be a powerful way to help others kick the habit.

According to the results of a new trial, employees from a US based multinational company stopped smoking, and remained smoke free for 9-12 months after enrollment in a program that gave money to employees who kicked the smoking habit. The trial results are published Feb. 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD, from the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Pennsylvania says, "Previous studies of financial incentives for smoking cessation in work settings have not shown that such incentives have significant effects on cessation rates, but these studies have had limited power, and the incentives used may have been insufficient."

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For the current study, employees who stopped smoking and remained smoke free for twelve months received a $400 reward. Employees were awarded $100 just for enrolling in the program, and another $250 within six months of quitting smoking.

The program compared two groups of employees – one group received information about smoking cessation, and the other information plus financial incentives. Testing was used to confirm compliance among the 878 employees enrolled in the smoking cessation trial.

The authors say, "In this study of employees of one large company, financial incentives for smoking cessation significantly increased the rates of smoking cessation."

The group who received financial incentives from the company showed greater success for smoking cessation than the information only group. Enrollment rates were also higher when money was offered as inspiration to stop smoking.

N Engl J Med. 2009; 60:699–709.