A SCHEME to give free gym passes to people who quit smoking in 2013 has been hailed as a success.

Since the idea was launched in January, 20 people have taken up the offer of a 12-week free gym pass in return for signing up to Bolton’s stop smoking service.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has teamed up with Bolton Community Leisure Trust to give everyone who signs up to quit a pass that is valid at five gyms across the borough, including Bolton One.

Health chiefs hoped the added incentive would encourage more people to give up smoking and that joining a gym would help people beat their cravings.

The 12-week passes are worth £725 and include swimming, gym membership and exercise classes for the quitter and a friend.

It also includes free swim passes for the quitters’ children if they are aged under 17.

So far, 12 women and eight men have taken up the offer, and 14 of the quitters have been going to Bolton One. They have accessed Bolton Community Leisure Trust sites 54 times since joining.

Smoking cessation service manager Adrian Butterworth, from Bolton’s stop smoking service, said: “The new gym pass scheme is going very well.

“This incentive has really hit home with some smokers, as some people may have been put off quitting by worry about weight gain.

“It is well known that exercise can help people quit and the benefits of this free gym membership should motivate people who have perhaps been contemplating quitting for some time.”

After the 12-week pass runs out, participants will be offered 50 per cent off a gym contract.

To take part, people need to sign up with Bolton stop smoking service in Crompton Health Centre.

They will then be able to sign up at their local gym.