Georgie Fenn, writes most of our news articles and social media posts.
Sign up for Stoptober for a better chance of quitting smoking for good
Smokers across the UK are being urged by Public Health England to sign up for this year's 28-day mass quitting event, Stoptober, with free support from some of the UK's top comedians.
260,000 people signed up to take part in last year's challenge, and evidence has shown that stopping smoking for a month makes you five times more likely to quit for good. People are also being encouraged to rope in family, friends and colleagues to join them as evidence suggests that quitting alongside others, particularly those with whom you regularly smoke cigarettes, markedly improves your chances of success.
Those who sign up for the Stoptober challenge this year will receive comedic messages of support and encouragement each day throughout the month from some of the nation’s best-loved comedians Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert, Al Murray and Shappi Khorsandi, delivered via text, email or the Stoptober app.
Public Health England (PHE) says that smokers are 67% more likely to give up if their partner stops with them, and 61% of people are more likely to smoke if their partner or a close friend smokes. In addition, data shows that around a third of smokers are more likely to try quitting if a close friend or colleague has stopped, demonstrating the powerful impact of the social network on smoking behaviour.
Comedian Bill Bailey, who was forced to give up smoking himself many years ago due to asthma, says: "My wife was a very committed smoker, and smoked for about 20 years, and only recently gave up entirely. So I've been through the whole process of seeing how hard it is. It's very difficult to sustain having quit. She gave up twice in the 20 years, once for about a year, but then went back to cigarettes. It was only really the e-cigarettes that helped her get out of the transitional phase.
"Something like this is a great idea, because if everyone's talking about it there's a much greater awareness of it. I think people who try to give up, it's almost so hard because there's not enough support around, that it becomes insurmountable. If enough people talk about it, like friends and family as well, then that makes it a lot easier."
Bill adds: "For people who are not smokers would maybe think 'just stop!', and you think 'no, no, no, it's so much more difficult than that, it's really hard'. A lot of people will try to stop, then they realise how hard it is. People just sort of accept that they're smokers and can't get out of that cycle. This 'mass-quit' is a sort of way that might actually have an effect."
PHE's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, says of the campaign: "Smoking is still our biggest preventable killer: 80,000 people die a year in England because of smoking, and so stopping smoking is the single best thing a person can do for their health.
"We know quitting with a friend or family member can increase a person’s chances of stopping for good. Why not join the thousands of people all across the country who are quitting at the same time during Stoptober, maximising their chances of getting through 28 days smokefree."
Comedian Rhod Gilbert explains why he is supporting this year’s campaign: "I smoked for about 25 years and probably spent 23 of those trying to quit, trying everything you can think of to kick the habit. I know firsthand that it can be hard to find the motivation to quit, but Stoptober is the perfect time to give it a go.
"Not only will you be joining thousands of others taking part, you’ll also have exclusive support from myself, Bill Bailey, Shappi Khorsandi and the Pub Landlord, as well as access to lots of other help along the way. My advice to those taking on Stoptober would be to take the 28 days one day at a time."
The health benefits of quitting smoking can be felt almost immediately, with easier breathing, a reduction in blood pressure and improved circulation. In addition to the well-known benefits of quitting such as a decreased cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, other long-term benefits include improved fertility, a younger-looking complexion, improved dental health, improved energy levels and immunity, lowered stress levels as you are no longer battling with the craving and withdrawal cycle and an improvement in your senses of smell and taste.
To find out more and to sign up for Stoptober, visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober
Images courtesy of Public Health England.
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