Offering financial rewards to encourage smoking cessation could save the NHS billions of pounds every year, a study has found.

The study, published by the Cochrane Library, included 33 trials in eight countries, where 21,000 people trying to give up smoking were offered rewards ranging from £35 to £912.

Results found that people who were incentivised with financial compensation were 50 percent more likely to give up smoking.

The study also found that the size of the monetary reward made no difference to a persons chance of quitting.

Researchers suggest that this model could be used to save the NHS billions of pounds as, currently, smoking costs the economy some £13bn annually.

This cost includes £3bn to the NHS and social care.

Dr Caitlin Notley, lead author of the study, said:

“In comparison to the total amount that the NHS has to set aside in the UK for smoking-related diseases, the cost of providing incentives is incredibly small in comparison.”

Dr Notley’s research also shows that monetary rewards encourage smokers to remain smoke-free.

She said:

“Incentives support people in the early stages of trying to quit smoking, which are the most difficult, and once people have made that health behaviour change and the incentives are removed, they’re more likely to stay abstinent from smoking in the longer term.”

Dr Penny Woods, the chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said:

“Offering financial incentives to help people quit smoking has been dismissed in the past, so it’s fantastic to see strong evidence that these innovative schemes work.

“Local authorities should consider this new research when designing comprehensive stop smoking services, as it could help target those in our communities who struggle the most to give up cigarettes.”

Source: The Guardian