Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quit the ciggies and win a holiday in the sun....

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a link to this piece I read today in The Metro. It looks like that 2 hospital trusts in Kent are offering anyone who uses their Stop Smoking service chance to win a holiday abroad. Way hey! Maybe I should develop a 20-a-day-addiction and then miraculously give-up by munching on Nicorette gum. Then I get my holiday. I really would like a holiday in Italy. I really would.

Quitters must have a series of check-ups before they are entered into an annual prize. The latest winner won a £2,000 trip to Italy. Medway and Swale primary care trusts pay for the holidays from their advertising budgets. They claim the incentive costs little more than an advert in a local newspaper encouraging people to quit. According to the report smoking-related illnesses costs the NHS £1.5billion a year.

This year’s prize winner said: "At first I was quite prepared to go back to smoking but then, when I found out I’d won a holiday, it was a turning point.”

Deborah Arnott, head of anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health: “I don’t see a problem with being rewarded for quitting. The cost of one holiday is neither here nor there. This is not the NHS squandering money”.

Well, I do see this as a problem as it is a “quick fix” solution and a rather shallow one at that. What happens if a prizewinner reverts back to the cancer sticks, will they have to cough up the 2 grand to reimburse the primary health care trust? Is it really such an incentive? Where’s the “carrot”? Where the positive reinforcement?

There's usually a big hearty dose of moralistic lecturing chucked at smokers, drinkers and obese people. And now it seems to be, “if we can’t bully them into submission then hey, lets give them a holiday”!
Will they be “inspiring” people labeled obese to lose that fat as they too can be shaking their new improved booty on holiday?

These “sticking-plaster” solutions really help nobody, as they are short-term. Surely that money can be best used for more long-term solutions and not on shallow quick fixes. I can understand people pulling out all of the stops to get the holiday and probably do it myself if given half the chance but what happens when there's nothing more to strive for. What happens when you come back off your holiday and tumble back down to earth with a big bump and reality may be making you gasp for a cigarette?