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Smoking Sucks and so does bribing people to quit smoking

September 2010

Smoking Sucks and so does bribing people to quit smoking

Author – John Dicey, former 70-a-day smoker and now Worldwide Director, Allen Carr’s Easyway To Quit Smoking

Well. Just when you think the world can’t get any crazier – along comes a story that proves you wrong.

Sky News have been reporting initiatives to give shopping vouchers to people (such as expectant mothers and youngsters) as an incentive/reward for quitting smoking. Such initiatives are supported by Action for Smoking and Health (ASH).

So! ASH think it’s a good idea to offer kids and pregnant mums money in return for quitting smoking. Really?

Does this organisation really believe that an expectant mother, already highly motivated to quit smoking in order to protect the life and health of her unborn child (can there be any more natural or emphatic motivation than that) might just find the additional allure of a £30 shopping voucher so irresistible that an attempt to quit smoking follows as a result. The notion is quite offensive.

No-one feels more desperate to quit smoking than an expectant mum and enough of the 500,000 smokers we’ve treated at our centers were expectant mums for us to realise that.

Society (unfairly) tends to look harshly upon them and turns a blind eye to the fact that addiction has no respect whatsoever for age, sex, or physical condition. Mums-to-be who smoke need compassion and real help to quit – not insulting bribes.

The fact that ASH support this hair brained scheme is likely to enrage the taxpayer, who obviously stumps up the cash.

It must be very easy for the decision makers at NICE, the NHS, and ASH to consider spending these kinds of sums on whacky schemes. After all, it’s not their money is it? It’s yours.

Quite how these people sleep at night while spending millions of pounds on this kind of futile folly while patients in desperate need of care and treatment, go without, is beyond me.

A spokesperson from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) claimed such schemes can make a big difference in a recession; when money is a reason people give for quitting smoking, especially for people on low incomes. Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that when a smoker quits they automatically become wealthier? Someone smoking a pack a day becomes instantly around £2,000 a year better off. That’s cash in their hand. If that is not a big enough incentive then I’d like to know what difference a £30 shopping voucher is likely to make.

What do the mums-to-be who don’t smoke get? Nothing! Is it me – or has the world gone entirely mad?

Of course the lady from ASH wouldn’t agree, she quite rightly points out that we’re in a recession and money is tight. I wonder why it hasn’t occurred to her or the NHS that things might be so bad that non-smokers falling on hard times might get wise to the ruse and realise that by claiming they smoke, perhaps even smoking a cigarette so they can “pass” the carbon monoxide test, they can ramp up a few weeks later to pick up the loot. Hoorah for free money!

No doubt that hard up smokers will sign up for these schemes – fight the urge to smoke for a few hours before they are tested for carbon monoxide – thus passing with flying colors – and be ready to pick up their loot in time to spend it on the next week’s cigarette stash!

Are these scenarios any more crazy than the suggestion that an expectant mum might be more highly motivated to quit for the sake of £30 or that this amount might make a difference to anyone already guaranteed to save £2,000 just by the act of quitting smoking?

Smokers need an effective means to quit and it is a tragedy that people like ASH and the NHS waste millions of pounds pushing and pursuing flawed policies that are getting us nowhere.

They’ve had decades and hundreds of millions of pounds to solve the smoking problem – isn’t it about time they put it in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing? After all – the cost of their failure is counted not only in pounds and pence, but in hundreds of thousands of smokers’ lives which have been sacrificed on the altar of the medical/scientific establishment’s folly.

For details of Allen Carr’s Easyway To Quit Smoking Centers click on your country’s flag on