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£500 to stop smoking

PUBLISHED: 17:20 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:27 12 August 2010

CASH incentives are being offered to help smokers and the obese adopt healthier lifestyles. Bexley Care Trust last year gave £500 to a smoker for signing up to quit for four weeks while Bromley council helps fund £500 prizes for people who lose weight.

CASH incentives are being offered to help smokers and the obese adopt healthier lifestyles.

Bexley Care Trust last year gave £500 to a smoker for signing up to quit for four weeks while Bromley council helps fund £500 prizes for people who lose weight.

Health chiefs defended the freebies despite evidence that the trust handed out £850 to three individuals but did not follow up their progress. Jo Woodvine, manager of Bexley Stop Smoking Service, said: "I don't see smokers as people harming themselves intentionally. Once they get sucked into nicotine addiction it takes away choice. None of us are born smokers. Those who end up in that cycle need support to get out of it."

The trust's £232,000 smoking service has a 67 per cent success rate, the second highest in London. It persuaded 1,656 people to kick the habit for a month last year.

The one-off prize-draw was launched early last year to entice more people to sign up. Ms Woodvine added: "Considering what it costs to treat people with cancer it's a drop in the ocean really. It did have the effect of raising the numbers of people using our service."

The government believes that smokers involved with a support service are four times more likely to successfully quit.

Overweight Bromley residents can sign up for The Change Challenge, where entrants can win £500 if they lose five per cent of their weight and maintain it for three months. Under a Bromley Care Trust competition targeted at youths, a Wii computer console can be won by those agreeing to a chlamydia test.

For more information on quitting smoking, visit www.

bexleypct.nhs.uk.

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