More than 170 pregnant women have signed up to a scheme offering up to £300 in vouchers in return for stopping smoking.
Under the Smoking in Pregnancy (SIP) Incentive Scheme, expectant mothers in South Tyneside can claim a £25 gift card just for attending an initial appointment and setting a quit date.
And according to health bosses in the borough, the programme, which started in March last year (2017) is proving a success so far.
A presentation that was due to be given to members of South Tyneside Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board shows that by August, 177 mums-to-be had been given a Love2Shop gift card.
It adds: “New data from NHS England shows that South Tyneside has continued to reduce the numbers of mothers smoking at the time of delivery.
“We’ve gone from one in four mothers smoking at time of delivery in 2014/15 to one in five in 2017/18.
“Contributing to this continued success is the pilot of the Stop Smoking Incentive Scheme for pregnant women.”
It adds early findings have indicated women signed up to the scheme are not only more likely to quit, but also to stay smoke free, than those who don’t.
After attending their first appointment and receiving their first voucher, they can be eligible for up to three further instalments – of £75 and two of £100 – if they can go up to 35 weeks without a cigarette.
The gift cards can be spent at stores such as Mothercare, Halfords and Boots.
According to research by Public Health England, smokers who can give up tobacco for 28 days are five times more likely to quit permanently.
However, figures released over the summer also showed just four out of ten people using the NHS Stop Smoking Service in South Tyneside managed to kick the habit.
In the 12 months from April 2017 to March this year, 1,772 people in South Tyneside signed up with the NHS Stop Smoking Service and set themselves a date to quit.
But four weeks later, just 754, less than half, could say they had given up, according to data from NHS England.
It added the total cost of this service in South Tyneside was £794,850 – which is equivalent to £1,054 for each person that quit.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service