Stoptober, the annual stop smoking campaign from Public Health England is in its ninth year, inspiring England’s remaining 6 million smokers to make a quit attempt this October. This Stoptober, smokers in England are being encouraged to put their lungs first, strengthen their immune system and breathe easier ahead of flu season by joining over 2 million smokers who have made a quit attempt with the annual campaign since 2012.
This year has seen nearly a quarter (22%) increase in quit attempts compared to 2019 and an increase of almost two thirds in the quitting success rate from 14% to 23%, the highest since at least 2007. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has calculated that over a million people in the UK stopped smoking during the coronavirus lockdown. This year, smoking prevalence among adults in the South West is at 14%.
Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills has smoked for 20 years and tried to quit in the past but this time he is committed to stopping smoking for 28 days with Stoptober. Scott will use a combination of nicotine lozenges and gum, motivation from the Stoptober App and support from his close friends and family. Scott first started smoking socially and now wants to quit for the health of his lungs, to breathe easier and improve his fitness. Additional motivation for quitting comes from his non-smoking partner who doesn’t like the smell of cigarettes.
Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills said: “I’ve been thinking about quitting smoking for a while now but needed the motivation to bite the bullet and commit. I’m quitting so I can improve my lung health which feels important to now more than ever, and because smoking bugs my partner! I’m going to use the support of nicotine replacement and advice from the Stoptober App to keep me going. I’m committed to stop smoking for 28 days – let’s see where this takes me.”
TV presenter Kate Thornton is making a quit attempt of her own, joining the thousands expected to quit with Stoptober this year. Kate started smoking in her 20s and has smoked on-and-off since then. Kate has reduced her smoking to two or three cigarettes a day and would like to stop smoking entirely for her son, Ben. Kate has pledged to quit for Stoptober, beginning October 1st, guided by her Stoptober Personal Quit Plan and with advice from her local Stop Smoking Service, nicotine patches and support from the Stoptober App, her family and friends.
TV presenter, Kate Thornton said: “I’ve been an on-and-off smoker for years but want to quit for good this time. I’ve recently noticed old habits creeping in. I’ve been smoking in social situations as well as during lockdown, but I’m determined to take the next step and quit for good this Stoptober. I want to quit not only for the health benefits but also for my son, who is quite rightly appalled that I smoke at all! I’ve already used the Personal Quit Plan and I’m tackling Stoptober with the help of advice from my local Stop Smoking Service, the Stoptober app and nicotine patches, as well as support from my friends and family – who have promised to excuse any bad moods while I do!”
Russ Moody, Health and Wellbeing Programme Lead for PHE South West said:“This year, the Stoptober campaign is encouraging people to put their lungs first and breathe easier in preparation for winter. Smoking damages the lungs and airways which leaves smokers at a higher risk of experiencing more severe symptoms from illnesses such as flu and COVID-19. This is particularly important for both smokers and for our NHS at a time of intense pressure on the health service.
While many people across England have already given up smoking during the pandemic, Stoptober will help those who are still thinking about quitting join those who have already quit this year.
Research shows that if you can make it 28 days smokefree, you’re 5 time more likely to quit for good. Stoptober offers a range of free quitting support including: the Stoptober app, Stoptober online communities and an online Personal Quit Plan tool to give people the best chance of quitting for the full 28 days”
Within the South West, Emma Friendship-Kilburn has shared her experience of quitting smoking successfully in the past year:
Emma Friendship-Kilburn, 37 years old, from Dorset said:
“I started smoking at 13-years-old, and now looking back, I realise what a young age it was to form a life-long habit. I always wanted to stop, but the cravings got the better of me. For some people it’s wine or chocolate, but for me, it was smoking.
“I was living such a healthy life other than my smoking habit. I was careful with my nutrition and my activity levels but was fed up with feeling like a social outcast and constantly worrying about the smell. Not to mention the effect I knew that smoking was having on my lungs, my skin, my teeth and gums.
“After seeing a presentation by LiveWell Dorset and reading and listening to their advice, it tipped me over into an I can do it mindset. I finally took the plunge to curb my habit during lockdown. Since quitting I have noticed a significant improvement in my health, I can run for much longer, and people have even commented on how glowing my skins looks. I would recommend using a service to quit and using the opportunity of Stoptober as a starting point.”
Professor Jamie Brown, Director of the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group and co-author of a living rapid evidence review smoking and COVID-19, said: “Evidence from a number of sources shows that a lot more people have quit smoking in 2020 than in recent years. Stoptober is a fantastic opportunity to join them. Stoptober will provide you with the right support and environment, and we know from research that if you can make it to 28 days smokefree, you’re five times more likely to quit for good.
“It will also help people get fit for the coming winter and flu season. While the evidence on COVID-19 outcomes for smokers is still developing and remains uncertain, what is clear is that stopping smoking brings rapid improvements in respiratory and cardiovascular health.”
Smoking damages the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to infections, such as flu. Smokers generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections and experiencing more severe symptoms. Stopping smoking brings immediate benefits to health, including for people with an existing smoking-related disease.
Stoptober provides the information and support people need to quit smoking for 28 days, based on research that if a smoker can make it to 28 days smokefree, they are five times more likely to quit for good.
This year, Stoptober is offering a range of free support tools for those looking to quit, including digital services that are easily accessible for those looking for online support. These tools include the Stoptober app, Facebook messenger bot and online communities, SMS and daily emails. There is also a Personal Quit Plan that helps people find a combination of stop smoking support that’s right for them, with options including expert support from local Stop Smoking Services, stop smoking aids and digital tools.
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