How effective are competitions and incentives for smoking cessation?
Only 1 study demonstrated significantly higher quit rates for the
incentives group than for the control group beyond the 6-month
assessment. This trial referred its participants to local smoking
cessation services, and offered substantial cash payments (up to
US$750) for prolonged abstinence. In the remaining trials, there
was no clear evidence that participants who committed their
own money to the programme did better than those who did not,
or that contingent rewards enhanced success rates over fixed
payment schedules. Paying smokers variable amounts of cash
depending on their success in quitting was no more effective
than paying them fixed amounts for attending the programme.
There was some evidence recruitment rates can be improved by
rewarding participation, which may be expected to deliver higher
absolute numbers of successful quitters.
Cost-effectiveness analysis was not appropriate for this review,
since the efficacy of most of the interventions was not demonstrated.
Material or financial incentives may be used in an attempt to reinforce
behaviour change, including smoking cessation. They have
been widely used in workplace smoking cessation programmes,
and to a lesser extent within community programmes.