PREGNANT women are to paid £300 in shopping vouchers to stop smoking.
A pilot scheme had been announced by bosses at Hertfordshire County Council in a bid to encourage pregnant women to ditch the fags.
A £50,000 pot of cash has been made available to women in Herts, where just under six per cent of women admit to continuing smoking during pregnancy – compared to a national average of just under 11 per cent.
Pregnant women will be paid an initial £50 in vouchers as soon as they ‘set a date’ to quit smoking, and will be handed another £50 after they have stopping smoking for a month.
They are then handed £100 when they have quit for 12 weeks and another £100 at 34 weeks.
As part of the 15-month pilot scheme – which launches in January next year – women have to agree to take a breath test, which checks for carbon monoxide – which is given off by cigarette smoke – to prove they had not had a sneaky fag. If they are caught smoking, no more payments will be made.
MOST READ IN FABULOUS
The vouchers cannot be spend on tobacco or alcohol, but can be spent on food, baby clothes and baby equipment.
Labour councillor Margaret Eames-Petersen raised worries that some pregnant women might start smoking just so they could get their hands on the £300, adding: “We want them to give up, not take up smoking so they can get the payment.” She was, however, reassured there was ‘no evidence’ of this being likely – and the pilot scheme was approved by council chiefs last week.
Jim McManus, the director of public health at the council, said: “We understand how difficult stopping smoking can be – our role is to offer non-judgemental help and support. “Helping pregnant women to give up is one of the most important things we can do to reduce the risk of harm and improve the health of babies for now and in the future.”
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org