West Midlands smokers encouraged to participate in Stoptober after smoking increases during pandemic


STOPTOBER is back to launch its 10e mass shutdown attempt on 1st October, calling on smokers in England to join the 2.3 million others who have tried to quit with the campaign since its launch ten years ago in 2012.

Over 6 million adults in England still smoke, with over 651,000 adult smokers in the West Midlands, and it remains the leading cause of premature death, with almost 75,000 preventable deaths per year.

A new national survey of 2,000 current smokers released today found that nearly half (45%) had smoked more since the start of the first lockdown. The main reasons reported are due to the boredom of confinements (43%) or the pandemic which makes 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 had been able to go back in time. Of those who want to quit smoking, more than half (55%) would like to do so to improve their physical health or save money (52%).

Data from the monthly UCL Smoking Toolkit study indicates a sharp increase in smoking among those under 35 since the coronavirus pandemic, from 18% in 2019 to 24% now.

The disruptive impact of the pandemic on smoking habits makes this year’s Stoptober mass stop attempt more important than ever. Quitting smoking has multiple health benefits, some immediate and others that accumulate over time. These include being able to start moving better, being able to breathe easier, and saving money. The average smoker can save £ 1,875.60 per year by quitting.

Dr Lola Abudu, director of health and wellness for Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands, said: “It’s the 10e anniversary of Stoptober, which has helped over 2 million people quit smoking. Smoking rates in the West Midlands have continued to decline over the past decade, but the most recent data shows that at least 14% of adults in the region continue to put their health at risk by smoking. With the stress of the pandemic, some people who have quit may have resumed the habit. We know that about 45% of smokers have smoked more since the first lockdown, due to boredom and anxiety. A recent survey shows that smoking rates among young adults have increased during the pandemic, making it 10eanniversary Stoptober even larger mass shutdown attempt.

“Smoking damages the lungs and airways, making it harder to breathe. Every cigarette fills the lungs with toxins that damage the immune system and make us more vulnerable to infections, including COVID-19. However, it’s never too late to quit, and more than half of smokers want to quit. If you can quit for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to quit for good. So this Stoptober, join the thousands of people who have quit in the past 10 years; start breathing easier, lower your risk of lung and heart disease and some cancers, and save all the money that goes up in smoke to enjoy the things you missed during lockdowns. “

Stoptober is based on research that if a smoker goes 28 days without smoking, they are five times more likely to quit for good. The campaign was first launched in 2012 when one in five adults smoked (19.3%); that number has since fallen to a seven in England (13.9%).

Stoptober offers a range of free tools to quit smoking, including: NHS Quit Smoking app, Facebook messaging bot, Stoptober Facebook online communities, daily emails and texts, and an online personal quit plan . The Personal Quit Plan helps people find a combination of supports that are right for them, including expert support from local quit smoking services and quit smoking aids.

Scott Crosby, head of the tobacco control program at Public Health England, said: “Since the pandemic struck, we have seen an increase in the number of young people between the ages of 18 and 34 who are starting to smoke, which is why Stoptober is more vital than ever. Now in his 10th year, he has helped over two million smokers quit.

“Quitting smoking will not only immediately improve your physical health, but also your bank balance. Research shows that if you can go 28 days without smoking, you’re five times more likely to quit for good.

“The pandemic has been a difficult time for smokers. But the number of stop attempts is on the rise and the success rate is on the rise. Now is the time to do it! Sign up for Stoptober and make it a success.

General practitioner and media doctor Dr Sarah Jarvis said: “Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature death. Every cigarette smoked damages the lungs and airways, making it harder to breathe. Smoking fills the lungs with toxins that damage the immune system and make the smoker more vulnerable to infections – which has been on the top of our minds for the past 18 months.

“As a doctor, I urge all smokers to try to quit smoking in October – it’s never too late to quit smoking – quitting smoking brings immediate health benefits, including for people with a smoking-related illness. There is a lot of support available, including expert help from local quit smoking services, quit smoking aids, and digital tools. You don’t need to do it alone.

Leading UK health organizations including The Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation are joining the call to get smokers in England to try and quit smoking in October by joining Stoptober.

Eluned Hughes, Head of Health Advice at Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation, said: “Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. Smoking seriously damages the lungs, which increases the risk of developing diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“It is vital, more than ever, that people protect their lungs by giving up this deadly habit. No matter how long you’ve smoked, it’s never too late to give up, and if you already have lung disease then quitting is one of the best things you can do to help yourself. As Stoptober celebrates its tenth anniversary, why not take the first step to quitting for good?

Smokers are invited to join the thousands who quit smoking in October. For free exit assistance, search for “Stoptober”.

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