YOUNGER people are more likely to back moves to offer financial incentives to persuade women to quit smoking while pregnant or try breastfeeding according to a survey.

But the research also suggested that the very groups of women who are least likely to breastfeed and most likely to continue smoking before they have their baby are less supportive of schemes which give payments or shopping vouchers to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

Men, people from non-white ethnic groups and those with higher education qualifications largely supported the pilot schemes, the research led by Stirling University found. People aged 44 or younger were also likely to agree with financial incentives while people aged 65 or over were less enthusiastic.

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Professor Pat Hoddinott from the University of Stirling's Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional Research Unit, said: "Our findings are a concern because the highest levels of smoking during pregnancy and the lowest rates of breastfeeding are amongst the less educated and white British women - two of the groups showing lower levels of support for incentives."

Dr Gill Thomson, a member of the research team from the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Evidence suggests incentives to promote behaviour change can be successful. "However, this study tells us there are still challenges ahead in promoting the benefits to certain groups."