Incentives in the Modification and Cessation of Cigarette Smoking

Edwin B. Fisher, Leonard Green, Amanda L. Calvert and Russell E. Glasgow

in Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735969
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894529 | DOI:
Incentives in the Modification and Cessation of Cigarette Smoking

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This chapter reviews research on the effectiveness of incentives in general health promotion, and in interventions for smoking and other drug addictions in particular. Consistent with basic principles of learning and reinforcement, and from a behavioral economic perspective, it finds that (1) incentives are effective in encouraging smoking cessation and other health behaviors; (2) incentives are effective while in place but not after they are terminated; and (3) nonsmoking may be encouraged by increasing the availability of reinforcing activities that substitute for the reinforcement from nicotine. Incentives may be especially effective when smoking cessation is a priority for a specific period of time, such as during pregnancy. Incentive programs appear to influence otherwise “hard-to-reach” groups. The impact of incentives is enhanced when implemented in the context of broader programs promoting smoking cessation, and incentives applied to populations may be cost efficient by achieving modest effects for large numbers of individuals. Basic principles of reinforcement and the use of incentives understood within a behavioral economic framework should continue to inform public-health interventions and may lead to new insights into effective approaches for influencing health behavior.

Keywords: incentives; smoking cessation; reinforcement; behavioral economics; substitutability; health promotion

Chapter.  13541 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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