Record number of people successfully quitting smoking: Record number of people successfully quitting smoking

21 Sep 2017

Public Health

Record number of people successfully quitting smoking

Expert report says there’s never been a better time to stop smoking in the South West - coincides with launch of Stoptober

• Highest quitting success rate on record in first six months of 2017
• First time ever increase driven entirely by successes among the less well off
• Expert report says there’s never been a better time to quit with e-cigarettes one of the key drivers
• Launch of Stoptober mass quit event sees new TV ad feature e-cigarettes for the first time

New data published today (21 Sept) in a University College of London (UCL) report shows quitting success rates at their highest for at least a decade, up to 19.8% for the first six months of this year, significantly higher than the average for the last 10 years (15.7%).

Success rates among the less well-off have for years remained stubbornly low, but in a major turnaround the sharp increase in success rates is being seen entirely among this group. For the first time, any smoker - no matter their background or job, sex, age, where they live has virtually the same chance of quitting successfully as the next person.

The report coincides with the launch of the Stoptober quit smoking challenge, which has inspired over one and a half million quit attempts since 2012. The campaign is based on research that if you stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.

With Stoptober now in its 6th year, the UCL report gives a number of reasons why there’s never been a better time to quit, including:

• better and more varied options to help you quit, with e-cigarettes now the most popular;
• more restrictions on smoking;
• the introduction of plain tobacco packaging;
• a stronger anti-smoking culture in England; and
• supportive stop smoking campaigns such as Stoptober.

Last year over half (53%) of all those taking part in Stoptober opted to use an e-cigarette as a quitting aid. This year the campaign will feature e-cigarettes in the TV advert and will encourage and support smokers who are keen to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

Carol Winton from Whitchurch has smoked 60 cigarettes a day since she was 17. She quit two months ago. She said: “I smoked for over 43 years and didn’t think I’d ever be able to quit. But I have finally managed to kick the habit by switching to an e-cigarette – and if I can do it then anyone can. Since I stopped smoking I feel so much better; I have more energy and don’t get so out of breath when walking upstairs. I turned to support from my local stop smoking service in Bristol and I feel like I’ve got my life back now.”

Councillor Asher Craig, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “For people who’ve smoked for decades quitting can seem like an impossible task, but Stoptober is a really good time to give it a go. Whether it’s the first time you’ve tried to quit or you’ve attempted to give up before, the benefits of quitting or switching to e-cigarettes are huge.
“Despite smoking rates falling over the past decade, smoking remains a leading cause of health inequalities in Bristol. It’s vital that people know about the help available to them through our Live Well Bristol website which they can use to refer themselves for support.”

Russ Moody, Tobacco Control lead for PHE South West said: “E-cigarettes are now the most popular way to quit in the country with half of all those taking part in Stoptober last year using an e-cigarette. The evidence is clear - vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking – a fraction of the risk. So if you’ve struggled with quitting before, an e-cigarette may be the best option for you.

“Don’t be put off if you’ve already made several attempts. Join up with Stoptober and benefit from free support direct to your phone, laptop or tablet via the Stoptober app, a daily email giving support or Facebook Message, free face-to-face support plus a raft of advice and information on the website. Search ‘Stoptober’ online and join the thousands of others who go smokefree once and for all this year.”

Professor Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: “Smoking is still the country’s biggest killer causing 79,000 deaths a year. And for every death, another 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease. With plain packaging showing graphic images of the harms that smoking causes now universal across the country, and tougher restrictions on smoking than ever before, there has never been a better time to quit. It’s never too late to give up – any smoker, no matter what their age, will feel the health benefits within months. Make the commitment to stop, join Stoptober, and add healthier years to your life.”

Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, said: “Quitting success rates this year are soaring. The advances and wider choice in effective quitting options, and stronger anti-smoking culture are fuelling this acceleration.

“Thinking about giving up may be daunting, but all the evidence shows there has never been an easier to time to stop. Quitting needn’t be the painful journey it used to be and the support you’ll get from Stoptober will increase your chances of succeeding. And for the first time, any smoker - no matter their sex, age, where they live, their background or type of job they do - has virtually the same chance of quitting successfully as the next person.”

The campaign starts on 1 October. Search ‘Stoptober’ online for all the support you need to quit.