By Fred Hooper
A Launceston-based study is using vouchers from a department store as an incentive for women to quit smoking during pregnancy.
Tasmania has the second highest rate in the nation of women smoking while they are pregnant.
About one in six Tasmanian women smoke while pregnant, and for women under 25 the figure rises to one in three.
A University of Tasmania study is now offering monthly $50 gift vouchers to expectant mothers to stop smoking.
Each participant receives the voucher for a department store after they have taken a simple test to determine if they have remained smoke-free for that period.
Dr Mai Frandsen is a research fellow with the Cancer Council of Tasmania and the University of Tasmania, and she said the premise of the research raised tricky questions.
“It’s a health psychology question,” Dr Frandsen said.
“We all know that we should exercise, we all know that we shouldn’t have too many beers, we all know that sitting in front of the television for too long is bad for us, but information isn’t enough.”
Dr Frandesn’s brief and passion was to try and reduce the rates of smoking in pregnancy, and she said the first step in wanting to quit is quite often already present in pregnant women.
“The tricky thing about wanting to quit while pregnant is that a lot of the treatments that are available for people who aren’t pregnant and want to quit,” Dr Frandsen said.
“Unfortunately even though they’re extra motivated to quit, these women don’t have as many strategies or don’t know that they have as many strategies for actually doing so.”
Dr Fransden said midwives and general practitioners who often have contact with pregnant women do the best they can to convey the dangers of smoking while pregnant, but they are often racing the clock.
Taking part in the study is Angela (not her real name) and she was under the impression that quitting smoking would be relatively straight forward.