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User pays to quit the smokes?

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Forget the patches, gum, hypnosis, and aversion therapy, if you want to quit smoking you need to put your money where your mouth is.

That's according to the latest report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, which says studies by behavioural economists have shown that paying yourself to quit is more successful than other methods.

The idea is called a commitment contract, under which the smoker regularly places a predetermined amount of money with a neutral third party for the duration of the agreement.

Should they kick the habit, as proved by a blood test, they get reimbursed the entire sum. If not, they get nothing.

The research says it works because those trying to quit the ciggies have something to work towards rather than a negatively perceived process many feel compelled to rebel against by lighting up.

Trials of the method in the Philippines found that it proved more than 50 per cent more successful than that of the control group who were just shown pictures of the consequences of smoking.

According to the Philippine Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted in 2010, about 28 per cent of the country's 60 million plus population are smokers.

The release of the NZIER report was just ahead of the 2012/2013 budget when the Government is set to outline further punitive measures to clamp down on tobacco use, including plain packaging.

The Philippine field testing showed that of the 2000 people who were invited to take part, only 11 per cent did so.


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