Put a stop to the wasteful NHS bribes

Smokers in Dundee are now being paid to give up cigarettes as part of a NHS scheme.  Quitters now receive £12.50 towards their groceries each week in order to give them the encouragement they need.
The taxpayer funded crusade against smokers continues.


Don’t smokers already have enough incentive to quit?  They would already be saving money by not buying cigarettes not to mention improving their health which is surely priceless.  Do they really need taxpayers to give them more reason to quit?  And if all of these more serious, and pre-existing reasons to quit aren’t already enough, is a couple of pounds a day really going to make a difference?
According to the BBC, there are over 360 people in Dundee currently involved with the scheme.  At this rate, one year will cost taxpayers £234,000, and the number of participants is growing by 20 to 30 people each week.  We could end up paying £23.4 million per year if Dundee’s entire smoking population were to cash in on the incentive.

And yet, at this high cost, it is predicted by Tayside NHS that there will only be a 50% success rate.  With the current 360 participants, this means that a minimum of £117,000 of taxpayers’ money is going down the drain.  And this rate of 50% seems more than optimistic.  According to The Sun, NHS Lothian ran a similar cash-for-quitters scheme only to give it up after 3 months when only 7 of their 27 participants had quit.

And still, many hope that this scheme will be replicated nationally.  The cost would be staggering.  In the midst of the recession, when many people are having trouble making ends meet, why should we pay for this ineffective, wasteful scheme?

Why is it that smoking such a hot topic anyway?  Why aren’t drinkers being given incentives to quit drinking?  I quit drinking coffee this year and there was no one around to pat me on the back.  I quit because it made me feel healthier.  People just aren’t expected to do things on their own any more, next thing we know the government will be giving cash incentives for people to clean their flats every day, ‘Well done, you washed your windows, here’s £50’.  These are personal issues; they should be resolved privately. 

And soon enough people are going to start demanding monetary rewards for improving their health.  There is a serious danger that these incentives will turn into the norm, and that the taxpayer will be footing the bill.

But who knows, if the scheme goes national maybe I’ll take up smoking, and then quit, but I wouldn’t want to quit too well, just enough to keep the money flowing.  I could use the extra £650 a year.

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