Press release

Sign up to Stoptober with friends, family and colleagues

Research shows smokers are 67% more likely to quit if their partner also stops smoking and 36% more likely to quit if a friend stops.

Stoptober 2015

Smokers across the country are being urged to sign up to Stoptober, the country’s 28-day mass quit attempt from Public Health England (PHE), to receive support and encouragement every step of the way from some of the nation’s top comedians.

And to stand an even better chance of quitting, they are encouraged to sign up with their friends, family and colleagues, as evidence reveals that this type of ‘social quitting’ can dramatically improve people’s chances of successfully stopping.

Research shows that smokers are two-thirds (67%) more likely to quit when their spouse stops smoking, and a third more likely to quit when a close friend (36%) or someone they work with (34%) stops. The data also shows that individuals are much more likely (61%) to smoke if their partner or a close friend smokes, showing the powerful influence that people’s social networks have on their own smoking behaviour.

This is backed up by a study of smokers in Australia, Canada, the UK and the United States which shows that the fewer smoking friends someone has, the more likely they are to succeed in a quit attempt.

This year, Stoptober will be providing quitters with a personal touch from some of the nation’s leading comedians: Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert, Al Murray and Shappi Khorsandi. Messages of support and encouragement will be sent straight to quitters’ phones and emails throughout October.

Over a quarter of a million people across the country signed up to Stoptober last year with more than half making it to 28 days. This year, it is expected the campaign will welcome the millionth sign up. By stopping smoking for 28 days you are 5 times more likely to stop for good.

Supporting the campaign, Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

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.

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

Stoptober will be providing people with more engaging and personalised support than ever. Along with receiving proven advice and support, participants this year will get encouragement every day from some of the best comedians in the country to help them reach 28 days smokefree.

The benefits of stopping smoking are almost immediate: quitters will soon see reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. It is one of the best things a person can do to improve their health and reduce their chances of developing long-term conditions and dying prematurely. Sign up today and get ready to start your quitting journey with our support on 1 October.

Rhod Gilbert who is supporting this year’s campaign says:

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 first hand 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.

By signing up to Stoptober, participants can choose from a range of free support tools including daily emails and text messages from the comedians throughout the 28 day quit attempt as well as a mobile phone app which includes lots more tips and advice - all of which have shown to increase the chances of staying smokefree.

To sign up to the nation’s biggest mass quit attempt, search Stoptober online or visit

Background information

  1. 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

  2. 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 almost 80,000 deaths in England a year. One in every 2 long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking related disease unless they quit.

  3. Rhod Gilbert is supporting Stoptober as he smoked himself for 25 years, and spent 23 of those years trying to quit. Rhod tried a number of tactics to stop smoking and knows that it can be tough to quit. Rhod will be helping this years quitters through with tough love.

  4. Bill Bailey is supporting Stoptober this year because he’s seen how hard it can be to quit first hand. His wife was a heavy smoker for many years before finally quitting. Following this personal experience, Bill is urging all smokers to quit with Stoptober using distraction as a key driver to help them get through the 28-days smokefree.

  5. Shappi Khorsandi used to be a social smoker and her dad has always been a heavy smoker, so she knows how addictive smoking can be first-hand. Even after major surgery, she still found cigarettes hidden in her father’s fridge, something that really brought home to her how hard it is to quit. Shappi believes in supporting smokers through their quitting journey and helping them through comfort and kindness.

  6. Al Murray, as the Pub Landlord, knows all about Stoptober having supported the campaign last year. The Pub Landlord has friends who were smokers and he knows that they need a bit of help and support along the way. Having never smoked himself, Al can talk about all the common sense benefits that come with being a non-smoker.

  7. In addition to the exclusive content and support, those registering for Stoptober will also be provided with information on a range of other options to support their quit attempt. And for the first time this year the campaign is supportive of smokers wanting to quit using an e-cigarette. For full range of options:

  8. There will be 10 different roadshows taking place over a 2 week period. These will take place on the following dates and in the following locations:

  • Wed 16 Sept: Newcastle
  • Thur 17 Sept: Hull
  • Fri 18 Sept: Preston
  • Sat 19 Sept: Manchester
  • Wed 23 Sept: Birmingham
  • Thur 24 Sept: Nottingham
  • Fri 25 Sept: Southend-on-Sea
  • Sat 26 Sept: Croydon, London
  • Sun 27 Sept: Southampton
  • Tue 29 Sept: Plymouth

Public Health England press office

Published 3 September 2015
Last updated 4 September 2015 + show all updates
  1. Updated contact details for clarity.
  2. First published.