Friday, February 1, 2008

Luxury to drive smokers to quit

No more nicotine tablets and patches: the latest tool to help people quit smoking is a luxurious stretch limousine, according to a new anti-smoking campaign in Austria.

Where guilt and health concerns no longer work, financial incentives may be the answer for those wishing to give up their daily pack, the Austrian Nicotine Institute and US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, who are behind the campaign, claim. Their "Smoking instead of Smoking" initiative will accordingly tour Austrian shopping centres with a luxury stretch limo, meant to show nicotine addicts what they could now own if their money had not gone up in smoke.

"A smoker doesn’t want to hear that smoking is bad for you, he already knows that," Pfizer Austria’s Robin Rumler told a press conference in Vienna on Thursday. The point is to reward rather than punish smokers who are thinking of giving up cigarettes, the organisers said.

"A person who stops will benefit not only his health but will also feel it in his wallet," Michael Kunze of the Nicotine Institute told journalists. Increasing the price of cigarettes — "10 euros ($14.70) per pack, at least" — would also significantly help people give up the habit, Kunze argued, adding that money is regularly cited as one of the top three reasons why people quit lighting up. The anti-smoking stretch limo will tour Austria until March.