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What’s Your Incentive?

There’s no doubt about it. Finding out I was pregnant in April 2013 was the biggest shock OF MY LIFE.  To say I wasn’t expecting it is the understatement of the millennium.  In fact, because it was such a shock, I had to take 24 pregnancy tests just to confirm my with child status.  So much wee.  So much money spent on bits of plastic that told me the same thing the one I’d taken 2 hours previously had told me.

I’ll never forget that day I found out I was to become a Mum. Thursday 11th April 2013.  About 6:40am to be precise.  Life as I knew it would change.  Forever.  I felt a raft of emotions; excitement, extreme trepidation, happiness, shock.  You name it, I pretty much felt it that day.

There was, however, one thing I knew I had to do the second I’d received that second line on the stick of joy and that was to quit the evil fags.

There was never a hesitation. The thought of continuing my dirty habit didn’t even enter my head.  I was now pregnant, there was now this new life so dependent on me that I had to do everything humanly possible to ensure its safety, health and wellbeing.  No matter what.  No excuses.

I’d been a full time smoker for 10 years. It was my crutch.  My ‘go to’ when I was stressed or anxious.  If I had a glass of wine in my right hand then you’d always see me with a Menthol fag in my left hand.  It was just one of those things.   The 2 went hand in hand.  If I’d had a large meal, a cigarette would soon follow.  If I was on the bus stop waiting for the bus to work then I’d be puffing away, killing time.  And effectively killing myself as it happens.

There was no way on this Earth, I’d ever put my unborn child’s health at risk. Regardless of how hard it would be to abstain from my long time habit. That’s just how it was.

Now, I know how hard it is to quit smoking. That wasn’t the first time I gave up.  I stupidly started smoking a few weeks after giving birth.  I could throw you a load of excuses as to why I resumed my old habit, but the long and short of it is, I was weak.

I’m now nearly 5 months into being smoke free and hands down, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m so proud of myself.  And, if truth be told, I wish I’d done it years ago.

So, taking all the aforementioned into consideration, I am more than well versed to have an opinion on the issue of smoking, and more pertinently, the recently discussed plans to introduce a new system whereby pregnant women who smoke are awarded shopping vouchers as an incentive to quit the fags.


You mean to tell me that shopping vouchers are a bigger incentive than your unborn child’s health?

Have a word with yourself.

There are so many things wrong with this idea, I’m at a loss as to where to start.

Firstly, let’s look at the backlash from taxpayers, who are quite rightly pissed off they are effectively rewarding the irresponsible. Because I’m afraid that’s what I’ll call you if you’re smoking when pregnant, irresponsible.  Oh and selfish, I’ll likely call you selfish too.

I try so hard in life not to judge. What’s that saying, walk a mile in my shoes and all that? But smoke when pregnant and I’ll judge your arse so hard.

You know the risks. You know the health implications. Why oh why would you put your babies health at risk for the sake of your habit?  It just makes no sense to me.  If you reward the irresponsible then the responsible will soon ask for their reward.  Why are they not being handed £260 worth of Love2Shop vouchers because they don’t smoke?

Secondly, what happens if someone successfully gives up smoking for the duration of their pregnancy, then like me goes back to the fags once they give birth (the final instalment of vouchers is made payable 12 weeks post birth, providing the Mother has still abstained in that time). A few months later they get pregnant again, are they going to be handed the vouchers for a second timme or is this just a once in a lifetime offer? How will this scheme actually work in the long run?

Instead of offering a monetised incentive to expectant smoking mothers, how about educating these women on the effects of smoking when pregnant? Offering counselling perhaps? Throwing cash at them is a short term, short sighted solution to a long-term problem. Smoking has long term effects, and this cannot be ignored.

Please don’t think me as holier than thou since I’ve quit the fags. I’m far from it.  I’m not perfect, I’ve made some monumental mistakes in my time.  However, I can’t sit back and pretend like this idea is a good one.  It just smacks of laziness.

I know it’s oh so hard to give up smoking. I know the cravings can be so incredibly overwhelming that there are times you can think of nothing else but sparking up that fag and taking a drag.  But this is about priorities and if some new clothes from River Island is more appealing to you than ensuring you give birth to a healthy baby a few months down the line, then I’m afraid, that’s really quite tragic.

A spend up in New Look or a healthy baby?

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Tracey

    I think it is a really stupid idea and what is to stop people smoking even if they do get the vouchers, they’re probably not being watched 24 hours a day! Agree the money should be going into education for all smokers. #globalblogging

  2. Rebecca

    Haha this is so horrifyingly spot on… I too gave up when I was pregnant (not that I smoked much to be honest anyway… maybe 4 a day!?) and the thought to have one just never entered my mind… you have a child inside you growing and your body is working so hard to sustain this amazing and beautiful miracle of life. My friend was really surprised that I didn’t even get the temptation as she admitted she smoked the entirety of her pregnancy (and her next one I’m told to that matter… but we are no longer friends so I didn’t experience this.) I strongly believe she probably would have benefitted from this incentive BUT women should definitely take a long hard look at themselves, as you say, if new clothes are more of an incentive that the health of their unborn child… i mean come on. Shocking. #globalblogging

    1. As shocking as this is, I can think of 5 people I know who would choose shopping incentives over the health of their baby in womb. Mostly due to their ridiculous belief that “my mother smoked with me and I’m fine.” I hate it, especially as we now know that even if your baby is “fine” their DNA is altered and the effects can be passed onto their children! Ugh. Selfish parents are the worst, but sadly it might not be selfishness as much as a lack of education. #GlobalBlogging

  3. I can’t believe it. Shopping vouchers as an incentive? I agree with you on this one – I can’t really see how it would all work. I think that there are better ways around this – education and raising awareness, support groups etc that would empower women to make the decision for themselves, in the best interest of their child’s health. Thanks for linking with #bigpinklink

  4. Seriously?!?! A voucher… Wow… Why not use that money for mental health ?!?! And like you say, educate pregnant mothers on the effects of smoking whilst pregnant. I find the idea of vouchers ludicrous! #globalblogging

  5. SMH. The concept of being rewarded for not being a fucking idiot blows my mind.

    Congrats on kicking the habit. I did, as well. Being a hypochondriac, I decided I’d try to flip lung cancer off the short list of things that might kill me. So here I am, not smoking. Where’s my gift card? lol

  6. You are spot on! There should be penalties, not rewards. Great post. I also judge those who smoke while pregnant. It’s disgusting.

  7. I saw this a while ago and felt exactly like you!! It’s so selfish but the government and NHS will only be thinking of the babies and savings. It’s cheaper to dole out shopping vouchers than look after a baby damaged by smoke. It’s so sad 🙁 thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  8. What a stupid idea just another example of the government wasting taxpayer money. Thank you for writing about this I never even knew this was a thing.#GlobalBlogging

  9. Wrong. Just wrong. You will generally only be successful in giving up an addiction permanently, if you really want to, motivated by nothing other than feelings from yourself. Vouchers as an incentive? Crazy. Alison x #Fortheloveofblog

  10. This idea is completely stupid. Your baby should mean more to you than a bloody fag or voucher. It’s not like smoking being bad for a baby is a new thing. Some people are really just unbelivebly stupid.

  11. I too smoked for years. I loved it. It was my favourite thing. I made numerous attempts to quit over the years, one time was before we tried to get pregnant because I knew I would never smoke when pregnant. I did quit, briefly, whilst ‘trying’ but after several months crawled back to the ciggies. Then one day, I found out I was pregnant and that was it. They were gone, instantly. Nearly 3 years after giving birth I’m pleased to say they are still gone! This therefore qualifies me to have my opinion on those who smoke when pregnant and how they are low lifes. I almost had a go at someone vaping at a petting farm today because even that made me feel uneasy.

    So, whilst I agree with you that this voucher scheme is absolutely absurd, absurd that any one should need an incentive other than the health of their unborn child to quit, I too can see the merit behind it. Firstly, because if it stops some women from smoking then that’s a win. Plus secondly, it will also likely cost the taxpayer less than the medical assistance required by the kids with side effects. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to smack these women in the face though and I hope someone can come up with a better method because this one isn’t great! #GlobalBlogging

  12. Yvonne

    I have not heard this before and I am truly horrified! As you say surely the baby is incentive enough! x #bigpinklink

  13. I thought I’d hear this on the news but couldn’t be sure. I agree, the health of your unborn child should be enough motivation. #fortheloveofBLOG

  14. This is spot on. I absolutely agree that voucher mean nothing and it’s quite frankly a very stupid idea. Like you say if they don’t care enough about themselves and their babies to stop smoking why should we (the tax payer) pay for them to have incentives to do it? Like you I’m no s judgemental person but on things like this I bloody judge because I just cannot understand why a mother to be would not try to do the best for her unborn child. Education and support is definitely where the answer lies in my view. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama

  15. Now this is plain fucking stupid!!! I smoked for 12 years before i fell pregnant and have not smoked since (although friday after that crappiest of days I really wanted to cave) Why do the government need to waste money for people who should not smoke for the sake of their unborn child, plus how will they monitor these non-smokers? blood tests? thats more money down the drain.
    Even when I smoked, I always said the day I find out i’m pregnant is the day I quit and although i was never 100% sure if id start up once baby was born – I knew whilst baby was cooking – this oven didnt smoke!! #stayclassymama.

  16. Well done you! What an achievement! I’d heard about the voucher thing…the question is does it work? #bestandworst

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