Stoptober is back to launch its 10th mass quit attempt on 1 October. It is calling on smokers in England to join the 2.3 million who have made a quit attempt with the campaign since it launched a decade ago in 2012 (according to Public Health England’s monitoring evaluation data).

Public Health England said over 6 million adults in England still smoke, and it remains the leading cause of premature death, with almost 75,000 preventable deaths a year.

A nationwide survey of 2,000 current smokers found that nearly half (45%) have been smoking more since the first lockdown began.

Key reasons reported are due to being bored in the lockdowns (43%) or the COVID-19 pandemic making them more anxious (42%).

More than two-fifths (43%) of smokers surveyed believe that the strength of addiction and/or craving is the biggest obstacle to quitting, followed by the stress of everyday life (42%).

More than half of smokers want to quit, and three-quarters (75%) would never have started smoking if they could go back in time. Of those who want to quit, more than half (55%) would like to do so to improve their physical health or to save money (52%).

Data from the monthly UCL Smoking Toolkit Study indicates a large increase in smoking among the under-35s since the pandemic – up from 18% in 2019 to 24% now.

Stoptober offers a range of free quitting tools including:

  • NHS Quit Smoking app
  • Facebook messenger bot
  • Stoptober Facebook online communities
  • Daily emails and SMS
  • Online Personal Quit Plan, which helps people find a combination of support that’s right for them, including expert support from local Stop Smoking Services and stop smoking aids

Scott Crosby, tobacco control programme manager at Public Health England, said:

“Since the pandemic hit we’ve seen an increase in 18 to 34 year olds taking up smoking, which is why Stoptober is as vital as ever. Now in its 10th year it’s supported over 2 million smokers to give quitting a go.

“Quitting smoking will not only immediately improve your physical health but also your bank balance. Research shows that if you can make it to 28 days smoke-free then you are 5-times more likely to quit for good.

“It’s been a tough time over the pandemic for smokers. But the numbers trying to quit is up and the success rate is up. Now is the time to do it! Sign up to Stoptober and make it a success.”

For free support to quit search ‘Stoptober’.