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For the past six years October has also been “Stoptober” – a month dedicated to encouraging and supporting people in their efforts to quit smoking.

The many and serious negative effects on health from smoking are now widely known, but as anyone who has ever smoked will tell you, quitting is not easy. Nicotine is highly addictive and trying to kick the habit alone is a real uphill struggle.

However, there is now a wide range of practical help and support available to help smokers quit, all promoted throughout “Stoptober”, and new research shows quitting success rates are now at their highest for at least a decade. The data, published in a report from the University College of London (UCL), shows quitting success rates for the first six months of 2017 at 19.8%, significantly higher than the 15.7% average for the past 10 years.

Success rates among the less well-off have for years remained consistently low, but in a major turnaround the sharp increase in success rates is being seen entirely among this group. For the first time, smokers in manual occupational groups have virtually the same chances of quitting as those in white collar jobs.

Since its launch in 2012, Stoptober has inspired more than 1.5 million quit attempts. The campaign is based on evidence that if you stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good. The UCL report cites several reasons why there’s never been a better time to quit, including:

  • better and more quitting aid options, with e-cigarettes (vaping) now the most popular
  • more restrictions on smoking and on tobacco advertising, brand imagery and packaging
  • a strong anti-smoking culture in England
  • effective stop smoking campaigns such as Stoptober

E-cigarettes are now the most popular quitting method and getting support from local stop smoking services is the most effective way to give up, with those who combine the two having some of the highest success rates. Last year more than half (53%) of those taking part in Stoptober used an e-cigarette as a quitting aid. This year the campaign features e-cigarettes in its TV ad and goes further in encouraging smokers keen to try e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking.

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at PHE said: “The evidence is clear – vaping is much 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.”

Professor Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, added: “The battle against smoking is far from over. It is still the country’s biggest killer, causing 79,000 deaths a year. For every death, another 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking-related disease.

“Far too many people are still dying as a result of smoking, but 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.”

Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, agreed, saying: “Quitting success rates are higher than ever. I think the advances and wider choice of effective quitting options and a strong 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.”

• If you’re keen to stop smoking, click here top visit the Stoptober online resource and find out what support is available to help you quit for good.

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