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Paying Someone to Quit?


Dr. Trevor van Mierlo, Chief Scientific Officer
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Hi projectgait - what an amazing question. I can't resist adding my 2 cents...

The research I've read in this area is that paying someone to quit works "sometimes" for "some people". But actually, not very often. If it worked for most people, I think insurance companies and social health systems would regularly offer people $ to quit. This would save not only on a lot of future healthcare and lost productivity costs, but also a lot of heartache.

This reminds me of a fairly recent study I did on our communities. I thought, at the beginning of the study, that I could predict who would be motivated post and who wouldn’t. We looked at factors like demographics (e.g. a user’s age, gender, occupation, education, etc.) and disease severity (e.g. how long they smoked, how many cigarettes they smoked per day, how many times they quit, etc.). Well…

I was dead wrong. Totally wrong. It turns out you can’t predict who will post (and who won’t). If interested, you can read the study here: https://www.jmir.org/2017/2/e40/

My point is that it’s hard to figure out what motivates people. What motivates someone to post? What motivates someone to quit for good?

My guess is that if $ is super important to your brother, more important than smoking, it can be used as a tool to help motivate him quit. However, I think it turns out that in moments of severe cravings a lot of things take second place to relieving the pain of withdrawal.  

I'm also a former tobacco user and although I quit a long time ago the thought of having to go through the process again is a strong enough motivator to stop me from using tobacco again. The thought of using tobacco again actually repulses me, but the thought of going through that again is even stronger.

Note: this should not stop someone who is struggling right now. In fact, even though they may be miserable in their quit, it DOES get better with time. The desire to using tobacco will one day - believe it or not - go away entirely.

In any case, what a great question!

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Ashley -> Health Educator
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Hi Projectgalt,

Interesting question. I did a little search and the article below discusses financial incentives in helping people to quit smoking: https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/content/signal-000654/financial-incentives-may-help-workers-quit-smoking.

The study offered participants $600 dollars and free smoking cessation aids. It turns out financial incentive can be somewhat helpful but individuals need to be willing to quit. Although success rates were still very low in this study. The participants in this study were monitored through blood and urine samples.

I am not sure how you would monitor your brother and I am also unsure how monitoring would impact your relationship with him. I think any kind of encouragement is great. Keep in mind that pushing too much can sometimes make people resistant to change. Try to talk to him about why he is still smoking and what he thinks he might like about becoming a non smoker. Encourage him to come to this website to read and post. The more he is thinking about quitting, the better. Keep us updated on what you decide to do.

Thanks for posting,

Ashley


projectgalt
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22 days ago +1 projectgalt 1 logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo

Hi all! Former smoker. Quitting was easily one of the hardest things I've done.... I've recently been trying to get my twin brother to quit as well (he smokes way more than I did). He won't try counseling and doesn't really care for Nicorette products/patches etc.

The other day I mentioned if I could, I would pay him to quit - he laughed, then said he'd think about it. Has anyone else thought about literally paying a friend/family member to quit? I can't stand thinking I would out live him etc...How would you even monitor it..? and did it work lol Have people heard of devices that monitor smoking? Any links?

Now that I think back when I was quitting....if it was enough money...maybe I would have thought harder about it earlier. Would anyone else be paid to quit?? Sorry I know this is random, but it is a serious question - any and all thoughts helpful.

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