LAWRENCE, Kan. - Which would you choose: a cigarette or a one hundred dollar bill?
For some, the decision is easy: Take the cash and run! For others, the addiction to tobacco is so strong that no amount of money could ever change that habit.
Dr. Ryan Neuhofel of NeuCare Family Medicine in Lawrence, Kan., is trying something new.
He's offered patients the chance to win $100 if they sign a "Zero Tobacco Contract" and refrain from using tobacco for six months. Those who successfully quit for that period will be entered to win the cash.
Neuhofel told 41 Action News Wednesday he's had several people take him up on the deal. In the future, he'd like to up the ante, increasing the reward to $500 or even $1,000.
"We just announced this a few days ago publicly, and we've already gotten a couple people who have either signed up or made appointments," he said. "They were probably in that contemplative stage where they are like 'I want to quit,' and this urged them on to action to say 'I'm going to do this now.'"
He's coined the program "Cash for Quitters" and is hopeful it might change the lives of his patients.
Neuhofel runs a nontraditional clinic where insurance isn't required or accepted. Sixty percent of his patients are uninsured, and he said he's felt strongly about public health for many years.
"I always looked at the system when I was going through training and saw all these inefficiencies and all of these things that frustrated not only the doctors but also the patients," he explained.
He said the alternative-style clinic allows him to give more attention to his patients and to promote health in unique ways. "Cash for Quitters", named in jest after the "Cash for Clunkers" program, is one example of that creativity.