"Roughly 18 percent of Americans smoke regularly -- a percentage that hasn't changed in more than a decade despite the proliferation of new therapies. We desperately need new interventions, and this study shows that financial incentives are likely as good, if not better, than other available interventions," said lead author Dr. Scott Halpern, an assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, medical ethics and health policy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The new study involved more than 2,500 CVS Health employees. The participants were split into five groups:
- Individual Reward (based on their own performance)
- Collaborative Reward (based on their group’s performance)
- Individual Deposit (requiring an upfront deposit of $150 with subsequent matching funds)
- Competitive Deposit (competing for other participants’ deposits and matching funds)
- Usual Care (including free smoking cessation aids and informational resources)
Employees that smoke who would like to participate will be asked to deposit $50. If, after a year, the participating employees test negative for tobacco, they will get their $50 back, as well as $700 more.
“When compared to the estimated $4,000 to $6,000 incremental annual cost associated with employing a smoker over a non-smoker, a $700 to $800 incentive paid only to those who quit seems well worth the cost,” senior author Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD said in a news release.
The findings appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.