Quit - Smoking Bonuses

UNDATED (AP) - Paying people to quit smoking may do the trick, if they want to quit and you pay them enough.

An experiment with hundreds of General Electric Co. workers finds that among those who were paid up to $750 to quit and stay off cigarettes, 15 percent were still tobacco-free about a year later.  That's three times the success rate of a comparison group that wasn't given any bonuses.

GE now plans to offer an incentive program nationwide next year.

The company hopes to save some of the estimated $50 million it spends annually in extra health and other costs for smoking employees.

A researcher says the reward system gives people "direct, positive feedback in the present," as opposed to some intangible health benefits in the future.

The research appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)