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Financial incentives help people quit poor behaviors

Dr. Stephen Higgins, Ph.D., a psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont, proved it worked with recovering cocaine addicts in the late 1980s. Now, he has proven it can be used to help pregnant women quit smoking.

This month, Dr. Higgins’ latest study showed positive results for women who were given money in exchange for abstaining from any kind of tobacco use during their pregnancy. The most effective method for making sure the women remained smoke-free, and the most effective in terms of keeping the baby healthy, was to provide increasingly bigger incentives over the course of the study.

The Vermont Department of Health is one of a few state agencies employing this concept, along with Wisconsin and Oregon. We consider ourselves rather lucky to work with the Vermont Department of Health and its 802Quits campaign to help raise awareness of the Pregnancy Protocol initiative. It’s an important cause, and as Dr. Higgins’ study showed, an effective one as well.

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