Usher Institute

Study finds voucher scheme helps new mums stay smoke-free postpartum

Study shows high street vouchers help new mums stay smoke-free postpartum, improving long-term health outcomes.

A newly published study, co-authored by Professor Linda Bauld, reveals the effectiveness of a high street voucher scheme in supporting new mothers to maintain smoking abstinence after pregnancy.

Led by the University of Stirling in collaboration with the Universities of Edinburgh and Nottingham, the study involved 462 women who had quit smoking during pregnancy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive varying levels of vouchers or usual postnatal care.

Pregnant women making a heart shape with her hands

Researchers found that 40% of women had still not smoked when their baby was one year old for those receiving vouchers over 12 months, compared with 21% for those receiving vouchers over three months, and 28% for women who received only usual care.

Professor Linda Bauld highlighted the significance of long-term smoking cessation support, especially postpartum, to benefit mothers' health and protect babies from second hand smoke exposure.

Smoking in pregnancy is hugely harmful to mothers and babies so helping women quit is a priority and has been the focus of much research. Far less attention has been paid to helping women stay smoke-free over the longer term. This benefits their health and also helps avoid exposing babies and children to second hand smoke. Our previous research on incentives during pregnancy had positive findings, so we wanted to test whether they work to help prevent smoking relapse. The results of this study are very encouraging and suggest that incentive schemes should include the postpartum period.

Linda BauldBruce and John Usher Professor of Public Health, Usher Institute and SPECTRUM Consortium Director

Cite as

Ussher M, Best C, Lewis S, McKell J, Coleman T, Cooper S, et al. Effect of 3 months and 12 months of financial incentives on 12-month postpartum smoking cessation maintenance: A randomized controlled trial. Addiction. 2024.

Further information

Read the full paper

Read University of Stirling;s news story 'First study of its kind finds voucher scheme helps new mums to stay smoke-free' | University of Stirling

Read Usher Institute's previous related news story 'Vouchers help to quit smoking in pregnancy' | The University of Edinburgh

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