We’re non-smokers, but we empathize with those who want to quit after years of smoking. It’s not easy. People try lots of things to quit smoking – nicotine patches, cold turkey, replacing the cigarette with something to keep them busy, avoiding the spots where smokers congregate, making new year resolutions, promising their kids/wives/girlfriends, what not. Few succeed, most fail.
We’ve chanced upon something that has proved to be more successful than any other way to quit smoking. CARES – Committed Action to Reduce and End Smoking – is a savings program offered by the Green Bank of Caraga in Mindanao, Philippines. Here’s how the savings program works. The smoker opens an account with a minimum balance of $1. For 6 months, the smoker deposits the amount of money he (includes ‘she’) would otherwise spend on cigarettes into the account. After 6 months, the client takes a urine test to confirm that he has not smoked. If he passes the test, he gets his money back. If he fails the test, the account is closed and the money is donated to charity.
Results of this program have been evaluated by MIT’s Poverty Action Lab and look better than other anti-smoking tactics. Opening an account makes those who want to quit 53% more likely to achieve their goal. In a study done by Xavier Gine, Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman, those who were offered CARES, including those who turned it down, were about 45% more likely to pass the nicotine test than the control group. Would smokers relapse once the 6 months were over and the pressure was off? After another six months of the 6-month program, researchers found that customers who took up CARES and even those who were offered but didn’t enroll, did markedly better than the control group.
If you wish to quit smoking in the same manner by depositing money with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Seriously, no kidding. We’ll do a test after around 6 months. We can agree to donate to a charity you don’t like. So that adds to your motivation to quit. And, if you want to commit to any other self-improvement, we’re open provided it can be verified whether you have achieved it or not.
Source: Xavier Gine, Dean Karlan, Jonathan Zinman – Put your money where your butt is: A commitment contract for smoking cessation – American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2(4):1-26 (2010)