Pregnant Canterbury smokers offered Warehouse vouchers to quit
Pregnant smokers are being encouraged to stub their habit with the promise of shopping vouchers.
Canterbury District Health Board service Smokefree Canterbury is giving $50 Warehouse vouchers to pregnant smokers who attend an information session about an incentive quit programme.
Those who enrol in the programme and are smoke free after four weeks receive another voucher for $80. If they resist the temptation to spark up again for the duration of their pregnancy they receive up to $200 in baby store vouchers and a gift "for mum" after the birth.
Smokefree manager Vivien Daley said: "It's been years since we have made any impact on the numbers of pregnant smokers and this seems to be getting results so most services are using incentive programmes now."
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Daley said a "smokaliser" was used to test the carbon monoxide levels of women in the programme to check they were smoke-free.
Quit coaches provided support.
About 45 women have attended information sessions and received a $50 voucher since the programme launched in Canterbury two months ago. Most of them enrolled for the quit programme, Daley said.
The initiative is allocated an annual incentives budget of $35,250.
Daley said referrals from midwives, GPs and community service providers had increased significantly since the programme started.
Canterbury is not the first region to launch an incentive quit programme. Hawkes Bay, Counties Manakau and Southern are among district health boards offering similar schemes.
National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service Hapai te Hauora director Zoe Hawke said international evidence showed incentive programmes helped women quit because they provided support rather than making them feel bad.
"The blame and shame culture doesn't really work," Hawke said.
Issues of low-self esteem, anxiety, depression, financial and housing insecurity made quitting more challenging for some women, she said.
"Your state of mind has to be in a certain place to be able to think about quitting."
Hawke said district health boards who had adopted the new approach had seen significant improvements in quit rates.
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner said an overhaul of smoking cessation services had improved quit rates and incentive programmes were a part of that.
"If we can come up with innovative ways to help people stop smoking it's money well spent in my book," she said.
The new services aimed to better support all smokers to quit, but were especially focussed on Māori, Pacific and pregnant women.
Respiratory specialist Dr Philip Pattemore said smoking created a range of health risks for a foetus including a higher chance of miscarriage, still birth, low birth weight, alteration of fetal airways and cleft palate.
"Nicotine itself can alter DNA and it increases the genetic risks of malformation and some cancers even right back then."