Press release

Over a quarter of a million quit for Stoptober as smoking rates reach an all-time low in England

Over 250,000 smokers across England and Wales stubbed out their cigarettes this month for Stoptober, the 28-day stop smoking challenge from PHE.

Stoptober

The nation’s biggest mass quit attempt saw more people than ever helping each other through to 28 days without smoking.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that the number of smokers in England has hit a record low, with smokers now accounting for only 18.4% of the population in 2013, a drop of 1.1% compared to 2012. And according to UCL’s Smoking Toolkit Study, smoking rates are continuing to fall in 2014. Those who successfully took part in Stoptober and didn’t smoke for 28 days are now 5 times more likely to remain smoke free, contributing to the growing numbers of non-smokers nationwide.

Smokers from other countries also joined England and Wales in quitting this month, as Stoptober rolled into New Zealand and the Netherlands for the first time, so that people from all over the world stopped smoking together.

The nation shows its support

Stoptober has had greater support than ever before with well-known faces such as Duncan Bannatyne, Gemma Collins and Jenny Frost joining some of the nation’s top comedians, including Paddy McGuinness, Al Murray, Simon Brodkin (aka Lee Nelson) and Andi Osho, who helped people stay away from the cigarettes by providing motivational messages of support throughout the 28 days.

This year’s campaign had a comedy theme for the first time, to help smokers get through the difficult challenge of quitting, and over 250 organisations such as Asda and the British Army as well as football clubs and bloggers got thousands of people to stay smoke free for 28 days.

To celebrate the end of the challenge for all participants and their supporters, a free online comedy gig, hosted by Lee Nelson, is taking place today (28 October 2014). The gig will be streamed live from the Stoptober YouTube channel at 7pm.

Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said:

With more than 250,000 participants, it is fantastic to see that this year’s Stoptober has been so successful. Evidence shows the clear health benefits that giving up smoking provides, and that by quitting smoking people can make a huge difference to their long-term wellbeing.

The success of mass-quit attempts, such as Stoptober, show that a tobacco-free generation is now within sight as more smokers stub out their cigarettes as part of a conscious decision to improve their health.

Comedian, Lee Nelson said:

What great news it is that over 250,000 legends got involved this year and gave quitting smoking a go. I want to say ‘well-done’ to everyone who made it through, and those who tried to quit, slipped up and are trying again, why not settle down after work on 28 October with a nice cuppa and watch me and some funny friends give you a giggle with our online comedy gig for Stoptober. Enjoy, you’ve well deserved it!’

Rachael Eddy, from Portsmouth, who has quit smoking this Stoptober after smoking for 30 years, said:

I lost my mum recently to lung cancer and despite having been a heavy smoker for years, Stoptober gave me the opportunity to finally try and kick the habit for good. It has been tough at times, but the overwhelming support I have had from friends, colleagues and other people going through the same thing as me has really helped me keep going. I would not have reached 28 days without the support of Stoptober.

Ends

Notes to editors

  • Office for National Statistics, Integrated Household Survey, released October 2014:
    • 18.4% smoking prevalence for England (January to December 2013) compared to 18.7% in the UK
    • smoking prevalence for England is down by 1.1% from 19.5% in 2012
  • While smoking rates have declined over past decades, smoking is still the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in the country - accounting for nearly 80,000 deaths in England a year. One in every two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit.
  • 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 www.gov.uk/phe or follow us on Twitter @PHE_uk

For further information, images or interviews please contact:

Public Health England Press Office

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road
London

SE1 8UG

Published 28 October 2014