Coupon Seduction: Ex-Smokers Who Get Them Are More Likely To Relapse

Few readers may be involved in selling cigarettes, but here is a cautionary note for those who are: Former smokers who receive coupons via email or direct mail are twice as likely to relapse, according to a study by the Georgia State University School of Public Health.

“We hypothesized that people who received coupons would be more likely to relapse, but we were surprised by the magnitude of the effect,” says lead author Jidong Huang, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Behavioral Sciences. 

Huang adds: “It really shows that smokers who have quit within the past year are the most vulnerable to relapse, and it implies that policies that prohibit the distribution of tobacco coupons could help more people succeed in quitting.”

The study is based on a survey of 5,000 former smokers. The results appear in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.



An abstract states: “Participants who received cigarette coupons at baseline were more likely to relapse at follow-up. This association was significantly stronger among participants who quit within 1 year than among participants who quit >1 year at baseline." 

It continues: “Subgroup analysis shows that receipt of cigarette coupons was significantly associated with smoking relapse among participants who quit within 1 year, and this association was not statistically significant among participants who quit >1 year.”

The solution to this seeming problem? Regulation. “Policies restricting cigarette coupons may help adults who recently quit sustain abstinence," the study concludes.

Huang comments: “Most people aren’t aware that direct mail and email marketing are among the most important ways for tobacco companies to reach current and potential smokers, but it’s still a very important public health issue.” 

Huang continues: “In addition to interventions and treatments that help people manage nicotine cravings, polices that prohibit the distribution of tobacco coupons could help more people successfully quit.”

Also, Huang argues that smoking causes nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. per year, and that roughly 35 million American adults smoke. However, 70% of smokers are interested in quitting. 



Next story loading loading..