Press release

Employers get behind Stoptober quit smoking campaign

11 million work days lost a year to smoking-related sick days.

Leading employers are supporting this year’s Stoptober quit smoking campaign because smoking is bad for business. Smoking currently costs the economy in England a massive £13 billion a year, with businesses losing over 11 million days of productivity each year due to smoking-related sick days, which alone costs £1 billion a year.

Over 250 companies and organisations, including major employers such as Asda, the British Army, and Unilever are getting behind the annual Stoptober campaign, offering support to over a million employees. Stoptober, the 28-day stop smoking challenge from Public Health England (PHE), begins today and is a major opportunity for employers to help their staff to quit smoking and encourage them to live healthier and happier lives.

Faisal Tuddy, Asda Deputy Superintendent Pharmacist said:

The health and wellbeing of our colleagues is important to us and any colleague in England, Wales or Scotland who would like to attempt to stop smoking will get full support from their local Asda Pharmacy. We are promoting Stoptober as we know that quitting can be very difficult but a supportive workplace will make the process easier. We are committed to helping our colleagues improve their health and it is encouraging to see so many other companies also taking part.

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

The figures speak for themselves – businesses can play an important role in helping their employees and see the benefits of a smoke free workforce. Quitting smoking is one of the most significant health improvements a person can make and it is encouraging to see so many businesses and employers supporting Stoptober to help make their workplace happier and healthier places for their staff.

There are still 8 million smokers in England and two-thirds saying they want to quit. Stoptober provides the perfect opportunity for employers and staff to work together towards quitting smoking for good. The range of free support available and collective efforts of colleagues and friends will help smokers complete the 28 day challenge.

Top British comedians including Paddy McGuinness, Al Murray, Simon Brodkin (aka Lee Nelson, Jason Bent and Dr Bob) and Andi Osho are providing a touch of humour to help the thousands of people who have already signed up to take part, to get through 28 days without smoking. To help quitters get through their first lunch break at work without the need of a cigarette, comedian Adam Hess is also taking over the Stoptober Twitter feed from 12.30pm to 1.30pm today.

Evidence shows that if a smoker can go 28 days without a cigarette, they are 5 times more likely to stay permanently smoke-free. Stopping smoking can be a difficult process but it has significant health, monetary and social benefits.

New free resources are available for employers to support staff with the 28-day quit attempt. Everyone joining Stoptober can choose from a range of tools to suit them, including a new stop smoking pack, a 28-day mobile phone app, text support with daily updates, quitting advice and tips for coping, as well as the encouragement and support from thousands of people through social media. For more information and to join the biggest stop smoking challenge of its kind, search ‘Stoptober’ online and sign up.

Notes to editors

PHE exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through advocacy, partnerships, world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. For more information on PHE visit or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) breaks down the impact of smoking on the English economy:

  • businesses lose approximately 11,597,164 days of productivity every year due to smoking-related sick days, costing £1 billion
  • smoking breaks cost businesses £5 billion a year
  • every year smoking-related deaths result in 158,290 years of lost productivity, costing the economy £3 billion a year
  • each year in England smoking costs society approximately £13.1 billion (includes care in later life costs, cost to NHS trusts and costs from passive smoking)

Refer to the ASH Reckoner for a full breakdown of total figures: (please copy the link into the internet browser to download)

List of employer partners supporting Stoptober, include:

  • Britvic
  • Mars
  • Ford
  • Cross Country Trains
  • Arla
  • Asda
  • Vauxhall
  • JCT 600
  • DWP
  • TFL
  • Vodafone
  • Arriva
  • Rentokil
  • Mondelez International
  • Next Retail
  • Thomson Reuters
  • Unilever
  • United Utilities
  • Greggs
  • TNT
  • Jupiter
  • John Lewis
  • Next Warehouse
  • Royal Mail Medway
  • DHL
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • WSP
  • Virgin Money
  • Virgin Media
  • AkzoNobel
  • Nissan
  • HMRC
  • McCain
  • BT
  • Lloyd’s Pharmacy
  • Rowland’s Pharmacy
  • The British Army
  • Superdrug
  • Network Rail
  • Serco
  • Cancer Research UK incl. TrustFord
  • Wilko Retail Ltd & Trust First Parts
  • Stagecoach
  • PepsiCo
  • British Airways

For further information, images or interviews contact:

Public Health England Press Office

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road