Press release

Quitting smoking sweeps the nation as Stoptober returns

Stoptober is back for a fifth year to encourage the nation’s remaining 7 million smokers to quit together this October.

Smokers across the country are being urged to take part in Stoptober (the mass quitting challenge from Public Health England (PHE) starting on 1 October) and join nearly 15 million people who have already quit.

Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20%) were successful; the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6% 6 years ago.

This increase in successful stop smoking attempts reflects the high number of people using quitting aids. In 2015, just over a million people (1,027,000) used an e-cigarette in a quit attempt while around 700,000 used a licensed nicotine replacement product such as patches or gum. In addition, over 350,000 people used their local stop smoking service in 2015 to 2016.

Alongside this, according to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in England and Wales has dropped by 20% in the last 2 years.

The smoking rate in England has also fallen to below 17% for the first time. The biggest decreases in smoking over the last 4 years can be seen in the South West (18.7% to 15.5%), the North East (22% to 18.7%) and Yorkshire and Humber (21.9% to 18.6%).

Dr Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said:

While we know that quitting smoking is not easy, this Stoptober is a perfect time to try again. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to stop smoking. There is more help and support available now than ever before. The introduction of standardised packs removes the glamorous branding and brings health warnings to the fore and e-cigarettes, which many smokers find helpful for quitting, are now regulated to assure their safety and quality.

We also have a range of free support that can go direct to your phone, laptop or tablet via the Stoptober app, a daily email service or Facebook Messenger bot. The new Stoptober website also has advice and information on stop smoking services and quitting aids. Stoptober has helped lots of smokers quit for 28 days and beyond. So if you smoke, why not make this Stoptober the time you quit - for good.

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

While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England there are still over 7 million people regularly lighting up.

Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year. Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.

Ex-England cricketer and Question of Sport captain, Phil Tufnell, comments:

I’m really pleased to be supporting Stoptober this year. I have smoked pretty steadily since I was a teenager, even through my cricket career. I have tried to give up before and know how tough it is, but I am going to try and quit again from 1 October.

Even if you have tried quitting before like me and failed, just give it another go and keep trying. The more you try to quit the more likely you are to get there. Stoptober is here to help, so let’s try and get through to 28 days without a fag by taking it one day at a time.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health. Coronary Heart Disease is the UK’s single biggest killer and by giving up smoking you’ll be dramatically reducing your chances of having a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke.

Stoptober is the perfect opportunity for people to take action to protect their health and join thousands of others who are also making a quit attempt this month.

Stoptober is back for a fifth year, having driven almost a million quit attempts to date. It starts on the 1 October and is based on research that by the time you have quit for 28 days you are 5 times more likely to stop for good.

For more information, search ‘Stoptober’ online and choose the package of support that will help you quit for good.

Public Health England

Wellington House
133-155 Waterloo Road



  1. For more information please contact
  2. Visit to sign up or find out more on what support is available.
  3. Download all Stoptober campaign video content and images can be downloaded by media from
  4. Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook:
  5. Within the past 12 months alone, the most significant fall in cigarettes sold have been in Yorkshire (15%), the South West (14%) and the North West (14%).
  6. Number of ex-smokers: Annual Population Survey Data 2015, calculated by Risk Factors Intelligence, PHE.
  7. Number of current smokers: Annual Population Survey Data 2015, calculated by Risk Factors Intelligence, PHE.
  8. Smoking prevalence: ONS Annual Population Survey 2015 PHE. Local Tobacco Control Profiles.
  9. Number of successful quit attempts: Smoking toolkit study, calculated by Risk Factors Intelligence PHE.
  10. Regional decrease in smoking: ONS Annual Population Survey 2015 PHE. Local Tobacco Control Profiles.
  11. Numbers using local stop smoking services: Statistics on NHS Stop Smoking Services.
  12. Number of cigarettes sold: Nielsen Scantrack data: Cigarettes, tobacco and smoking control, May 2016.
  13. Percentage of successful quit attempts: Smoking Toolkit study.