Washington, Feb 27 (ANI): Pregnant women in the UK are using NHS fruit and vegetable vouchers to obtain cigarettes and alcohol, reveals a Government report.he survey more than 2,000 retailers, health professionals and recipients has found that more than one in five knew of occasions when shops had swapped the tokens for products outside the scheme, reports the Telegraph.
As well as trading vouchers for alcohol and cigarettes, supermarkets and small convenience stores had allowed them to be used to pay for nappies, baby products, general groceries, bread, eggs and meat, found the report.
The research was carried out because the Healthy Start scheme is due to be expanded in April, so that vouchers can be swapped for frozen vegetables and fruit, as well as fresh produce.
In total, 21 per cent knew of occasions when a retailer had accepted the vouchers for products that should not have been allowed.
Among those polled, 34 per cent wanted to see closer monitoring of retailers in future, while 17 per cent thought the risks would increase even more as the initiative expands.
Emma Boon, of The TaxPayers' Alliance, has urged the Coalition to abolish the scheme.
She said, "All these endless handouts from the nanny state do nothing but encourage shameless behaviour from those in society who would rather spend money on cigarettes and alcohol than on their own children."
"It's naive of the Government to give out these vouchers and expect the scheme to have an impact on how much healthy food mums or mums-to-be are buying. This misguided programme is wasting taxpayers' money and should be scrapped," she added. (ANI)