‘Like October, but without the cigarettes’- The Stoptober campaign in England

Stoptober – England and Wales’ mass 28-day stop smoking challenge – is back following the first ever Stoptober last year, which saw 160,000 people successfully complete the challenge and claim to have not smoked for the 28 day period.

The campaign is run by Public Health England (PHE) – the national Government body responsible for commissioning, managing and monitoring public health activity in the country. The campaign was launched as new research shows the extra years of life that can be gained by giving up smoking and staying smokefree (1). Someone who quits smoking for Stoptober, and doesn’t smoke again, could gain an extra 7 days of life, every 28 days, for the rest of their life (1).

Along with the health benefits, stopping will save the average English smoker over £150 a month and almost £2,000 a year(2). During last year’s Stoptober campaign, it has been estimated that £25 million was saved by the 160,000 people from not buying cigarettes.

Over 8 million people in England smoke and it remains the nation’s biggest killer, with half of long-term smokers dying prematurely from a smoking-related disease. Research shows that those who stop smoking for 28 days are 5 times more likely to stay smokefree and Stoptober’s ambition is to help smokers achieve this goal.

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Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“One in two long-term smokers die as a result of smoking, this is the single biggest cause of premature death taking more than 100,000 lives in the UK and costing the NHS up to £2.7 billion each year.

Life is precious and Stoptober is all about supporting and encouraging each other to quit – potentially adding years to your life.

Taking part in the challenge is a first step to a longer and healthier life so have a go, by stopping with Stoptober.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE said:

“Campaigns such as Stoptober, along with the support provided by local stop smoking services, play a huge role in helping people to stop. Whilst smoking prevalence across the country as a whole is falling steadily, it remains high in some parts and is still the biggest cause of premature death with more than 80,000 deaths in England every year.

We want every smoker to consider making a quit attempt this October and join the thousands of people who are feeling the benefits from stopping smoking last year.”

Stoptober provides smokers with a range of free support including a new stop smoking pack, a 28-day mobile phone app and text support with daily updates and quitting advice, detailed tools and tips for coping, as well as the encouragement and support from thousands of people quitting together through Stoptober social media.

Promotion of the campaign began on Monday 9 September with the launch of new TV advertising and roadshows touring the country. To encourage people to sign up and order their packs, ultra-marathon runner and ex 40-a-day smoker Rory Coleman is running 28 miles a day for 28 days across England and Wales. As part of Rory’s challenge he will be pushing the giant red Stoptober wheel with the help of local armed forces representatives and members of the public.

Stoptober 2013 starts on Tuesday 1 October and runs for 28 days.

Hear one participant’s success story in this follow-up blog.

  1. University of Toronto: 21st Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the United States.
  2. Based on £7.77 for a packet of cigarettes (Office of National Statistics, May 2013) and an average daily consumption of 13 manufactured cigarettes per smoker (2011 General Lifestyle Survey)