Behavior Change
CVS Health:
Financial Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Employer-sponsored smoking cessation programs with financial incentives are associated with higher rates of quitting smoking and sustained abstinence, according to a new study by the CVS Health Research Institute and researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study helped shape a new smoking cessation program for CVS Health employees that will launch in June 2015.

The researchers randomly assigned around 2,500 CVS Health employees and their family and friends to one of four incentive-based smoking cessation programs or to usual care, which consisted of informational resources and free access to a behavioral-modification program and nicotine-replacement therapy. Across all of the incentive-based programs, participants were eligible for up to $800 for successfully quitting smoking, but the programs differed in how incentives were accrued and disbursed.

Two of the programs required participants to pay an upfront deposit of $150, which was reimbursed if participants successfully quit smoking. Overall, study participants who enrolled in any of the four incentive-based programs were nearly three times more likely to quit smoking than those who received usual care alone, CVS Health says. In addition, although participants assigned to the groups requiring an upfront deposit were more likely to decline participation than those in the pure incentive-based programs, deposit programs led to nearly twice the rate of abstinence from smoking at six months among people who would have accepted either type of program.

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Next month, CVS Health will launch "700 Good Reasons," a new smoking cessation program for its employees and their dependents who smoke or use tobacco of any kind. Program participants are required to pay a $50 deposit and can earn up to $700 as well as a refund of their full deposit if they commit to quit and are successful. The financial incentives will be paid to participating employees who test tobacco-free at six and 12 months. In addition, those enrolled will also be encouraged to participate in CVS/minuteclinic's Start to Stop smoking cessation program which offers a personalized quit plan, nicotine replacement therapy and support to help stay on track.

CVS Health stopped selling tobacco products in all CVS/pharmacy locations in September 2014 in order to "support the health and well-being of its patients and customers," the company says.

In its recent Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report, CVS Health President and CEO Larry Menlo stated that changing its name and no longer selling tobacco products reflect how the company is working to change the way healthcare is delivered. Menlo added that the company’s ultimate goal is to lower the cost, improve the quality of, and increase access to health care for patients and customers so they can live healthier lives.

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