The question of an incentive proved to be popular with employees asked to give up smoking for a reward of $800. Nearly everyone who was made the offer in a scientific trial accepted the challenge, but it was less effective than a program offering potential winnings only after an up-front deposit of $150 - which proved the less popular but better bet.
"The randomized controlled trial compared the effects of four different financial incentive programs - all worth around $800 over 6 months - added to a standard level of help for smoking cessation. The quit rates achieved by employees at 6 and 12 months have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. All of the 2,538 study participants were offered usual care for smoking cessation - information about local resources, guides from the American Cancer Society, and, for 41% receiving health benefits, free access to a behavioral-modification program and nicotine-replacement therapy. The results for the group of participants randomly assigned to this usual care alone were compared with results for groups assigned to an additional offer of financial incentive paid at different stages for biochemically confirmed abstinence: Individual reward - $200 paid at each point for abstinence maintained 14 days, 30 days and 6 months after the target quit date, with a $200 bonus also paid at the end Individual deposit - the same incentive structure as for intervention 1 but with an element of penalty for failed abstinence, losing the $150 deposit otherwise refundable with achievement of the 6-month bonus Collaborative reward - groups of six quitters worked together toward the same abstinence dates but were paid $100 each per time point if just one person succeeded, going up by that amount for every additional success in the group per time point, to a maximum of $600 each when all six achieved the abstinence Competitive reward - each of the six quitters had paid in $150, and this would be lost and redistributed along with $450 incentives spread out among only the successful quitters in the group, again for each time point of sustained smoking cessation."