Vouchers to help mums-to-be to quit smoking to be rolled out across Lanarkshire

A trial where pregnant women in deprived areas of Glasgow were given shopping vouchers worth a total of £400, resulted in a quarter of them kicking the habit

The study, involving 600 women, is now to be rolled out across Lanarkshire.

More than 20 per of the women offered Argos, Boots and Mothercare vouchers stopped smoking, compared with nine given only the usual NHS support.

The Royal College of Midwives said incentivising healthy behaviours using money was “not ideal” - and expensive.

But researchers from Glasgow and Stirling universities say providing the vouchers is cost-effective for the NHS, because smoking in pregnancy raises the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.

One of the lead authors, Prof David Tappin, said: “Many of these mothers have inadequate housing, difficult relationships, low self-esteem and only enough income to subsist.

“The money, albeit in the form of vouchers, often lifts the pressure.

“This evidence shows that the money is the hand they need to pull them out of their addiction.

“Women liked the four payments, particularly the last of £200 which allowed them to buy clothes for their coming baby and larger items like a pram.”

The programme will now be tested on 1,500 more mums-to-be in Lanarkshire, London, Nottingham and Belfast.

Women taking part in the trial had breath tests - as well as providing saliva and urine samples - to check whether they were smoking. Blood samples were monitored too.

All were from the area covered by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which has large pockets of deprivation.