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Quitting smokers win cash reward

Wellington campus

Friday 29 May 2015 9:40am

Senior Research Fellow Dr Brent Caldwell

It is World Smokefree Day this Sunday, and two former smokers have won money by quitting as part of a University of Otago Wellington trial funded by the Ministry of Health.

Top prize of $750 went to Gaylene Strawbridge, who was randomly selected out of all the participants whose abstinence had been biochemically verified over the whole of the 18 week trial. A second prize of $250 was awarded to a randomly selected participant whose abstinence had biochemically verified abstinence during at least one of the checks during the trial.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Brent Caldwell says the trial offered smokers the chance to try a range of nicotine replacement therapies through kiosks in workplaces and community locations, such as malls, throughout the lower North Island.

“They received face-to-face coaching on how to best use the therapies to maximise their enjoyment and minimise side-effects, with the added incentive of being eligible to win money by quitting smoking,

“Smokers could take a free sample of a week’s supply of as many products as they liked, and be supported by expert cessation workers through regular follow-up at the community location or over the phone.”

Dr Caldwell says 1,514 smokers have taken up the spur-of-the-moment chance to try nicotine replacement therapy at the stalls, with the vast majority choosing the nicotine inhalator and nicotine mouthspray.

“The latest international evidence shows that offering smokers financial incentives increases their odds of quitting by 1.43 times. Furthermore, using nicotine replacement therapy increases the odds of quitting by 1.84.

“Quitting smoking is really hard, and although nicotine replacement therapies make quitting easier and double the chance of success, most smokers try to quit cold turkey. We aimed to give them first-hand experience of how helpful these therapies are and how to best use them, in the hope that this would motivate smokers to attempt to quit and increase their chances of success,” Dr Caldwell says.

“Although the government might not be able to afford to give smokers financial incentives to quit, or subsidise new more effective therapies, workplaces might want to do this for their staff and reap the benefits of a healthier workforce. I would encourage smokers to use a combination of nicotine replacement therapies to help them quit on World Smokefree Day.”

For further information contact:

Dr Brent Caldwell
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel: 04 918 6041

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