Smoking during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of poor pregnancy outcomes in the U.S., causing serious immediate and longer-term adverse effects for mothers and offspring. In this report we provide a narrative review of research on the use of financial incentives to promote abstinence from cigarette smoking during pregnancy, an intervention wherein women earn vouchers exchangeable for retail items contingent on biochemically-verified abstinence from recent smoking.
Published reports based on controlled trials are reviewed. All of the reviewed research was conducted by one of two research groups who have investigated this treatment approach.
Results from six controlled trials with economically disadvantaged pregnant smokers support the efficacy of financial incentives for increasing smoking abstinence rates antepartum and early postpartum. Results from three trials provide evidence that the intervention improves sonographically estimated fetal growth, mean birth weight, percent of low-birth-weight deliveries, and breastfeeding duration.
The systematic use of financial incentives has promise as an efficacious intervention for promoting smoking cessation among economically disadvantaged pregnant and recently postpartum women and improving birth outcomes. Additional trials in larger and more diverse samples are warranted to further evaluate the merits of this treatment approach.