Quit One for the Team

Workplace smoking cessation program conquers addiction

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Would you quit one of your bad habits for $50? What if all of your colleagues got $50 too? Now the pressure is on!

New research, not yet published, shows that smokers have a better chance of giving up cigarettes for good when they share financial rewards with workplace teammates.

"Quit smoking at work."

Sang Haak Lee, MD, PhD, pulmonologist and professor of medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital and the Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, and colleagues wanted to see if workplace team-based programs with financial incentives were more effective at long-term smoking cessation than those that only rewarded individuals.

Researchers developed a year-long program to improve motivation to quit smoking, increase smoking cessation rates and keep former smokers from resuming the habit.

To test this program, 28 smokers were recruited to participate. They were all healthcare workers from the same hospital in South Korea.

After the first week, each team was given the equivalent of $45 for each teammate that hadn’t smoked. This was repeated after one month.

After three months and again at six months in the program, the teams were rewarded with $90 per smoke-free participant.

By three months, 61 percent of the participants had not smoked. Halfway through the year, 54 percent of the smokers were smoke-free. By the end of the one-year program, half of the participants had quit smoking.

Though the number of people enrolled was small, researchers believe that the program demonstrated the relative benefits of team-based approaches that encourage peer support and encouragement compared with individual incentives.

“In terms of efficacy, the abstinence rates were relatively high for a prolonged period in the team-based approach compared with those previously reported,” said Lee.

“Many employees spend the majority of their day in a workplace environment, and the workplace has a number of advantages for smoking cessation intervention,” he said.

The research was presented at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held in Anaheim, Calif. on Oct. 16-19, 2012.

Because the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, its results should be regarded as preliminary and still require review by researchers in the field. No information was available regarding funding or disclosures.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 17, 2012
Last Updated:
April 26, 2013