Public Health England launches Stoptober campaign as number of people quitting smoking surges

Date published: 22 September 2020

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 two million smokers who have made a quit attempt since 2012 with the annual campaign.

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.

The smoking prevalence among adults in England is at a record low of 13.9% and in North West is 14.5%.

This year, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has calculated that in North West 102,000 people stopped smoking during the coronavirus lockdown.

New data published from the UCL Smoking Toolkit Study shows that compared to 2019, the proportion of smokers in England making a quit attempt has increased from 29% to 35%, an increase of almost a quarter.

The success rate for quit attempts has risen from 14% to 23%, representing an increase of almost two thirds, the highest in over a decade.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Deputy Director of Health and Wellbeing for PHE North West, said: “As we experience a global pandemic, looking after our health is more important than ever.

“Smoking attacks our lungs and makes it harder to breathe as well as putting strain on the health system - so there has never been a better time to stop.

“And It’s never too late to quit - stopping smoking brings immediate benefits to health, including for people with an existing smoking-related disease.

“Give your lungs the best chance by kicking the habit this Stoptober and make use of the wealth of support out there to quit smoking for good. You can do this!”

Leading UK health organisations including ASH, British Lung Foundation, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK are joining in the call to get smokers in England to give quitting a go this Stoptober.

Professor Jamie Brown, Director of the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group and co-author of a living rapid evidence review on smoking and COVID-19, said: “Evidence shows that many more smokers are trying to quit in 2020 and the highest numbers are succeeding since at least 2007.

“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.

“Quitting now will not only benefit people’s individual health and help improve their lung health ahead of flu season, but it will also help to reduce the demands on the healthcare system in these difficult times.”

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.

Search ‘Stoptober’ now for a full range of quitting support options.

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