Pregnant women in South Tyneside are being offered up to £300 to stop smoking.
Under the Smoking in Pregnancy (SIP) Incentive Scheme, expectant mothers can claim a £25 gift card just for attending an initial appointment and setting a quit date.
And they can be eligible for up to three further installments – one of £75 and two of £100 – which can be spent at stores such as Mothercare, Halfords and Boots if they can go 35 weeks without a cigarette.
Speaking to South Tyneside Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Claire Mawson, a senior public health advanced practitioner, said: “The SIP scheme provides gift cards to women who smoke for reaching key milestones.
“The scheme is based on robust evidence that pregnant women are more likely to quit smoking if they’re part of one of these schemes.”
The SIP Incentive scheme was introduced in March 2017, and is open to all pregnant women living in South Tyneside.
A report prepared for the panel showed it is beginning to have an effect, with smoking rates falling among those involved by the end of 2017/18.
Tom Hall, South Tyneside Council’s director of public health, said the next step to tackle smoking rates was to see it ‘denormalised’, especially among the young.
Members were told strategies to achieve this included getting children to produce anti-smoking and stop smoking videos for social media.
Some of the board expressed scepticism about this approach, however.
Sir Paul Ennals, chairman of the local safeguarding children board, said: “The messages children and young people think will work are not necessarily the ones that will work.
“It’s terrific that we’re doing this, but we should have a moment’s pause before we roll anything out from this.”
James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service