Professor David Tappin, Professor of Clinical Trials for Children, University of Glasgow
Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, University of Stirling
Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Between 30–50% of SIDS cases could be prevented if women did not smoke during pregnancy, and exposing babies to tobacco smoke after birth also increases the risk of SIDS. Only a small proportion of women who smoke will stop during pregnancy, despite the availability of free support from stop-smoking services. Therefore new ways of supporting more women to move away from tobacco use are needed.
Previous studies have shown that offering financial incentives to quit smoking can be effective. A pilot study conducted in Glasgow offered shopping vouchers to pregnant smokers, and found that two-and-a-half times more women stopped smoking than those not offered vouchers (Tappin 2015). As this was a pilot study, a larger trial (called a phase-III trial) is now needed to determine whether the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) can recommend offering financial incentives for all pregnant smokers.
The aim of this phase-III study is to examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of offering voucher incentives to pregnant smokers, in order to encourage them to engage with stop-smoking services and to quit during pregnancy and after. Over the three-year project, 940 smokers in different regions of the UK will be recruited and followed-up for six months after birth. The number of women who quit smoking after receiving shopping vouchers in addition to stop-smoking services will be compared to the number of women who quit after just attending stop-smoking services.
The Lullaby Trust has provided funding for this project alongside Cancer Research UK; the Chief Scientist Office Scotland; Health and Social Care Northern Ireland; Chest, Heart & Stroke Northern Ireland; and the Scottish Cot Death Trust.