Public health professionals are urging the nation’s eight million smokers to use next month’s Stoptober challenge to help them stop smoking.
According to Public Health England, a smoker who gives up cigarettes for the whole of October could gain an extra week of life for every 28 days they abstain from tobacco.
Research has suggested that people who stop for four weeks are five times more likely to quit the habit for good, while those who quit are predicted to save more than £150 a month.
Last year 160,000 people signed up for the government campaign, which helped the nations smokers save £25m. Those taking part get a 28-day mobile phone app, texts giving advice and updates and a free pack.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, said taking part in the challenge was a first step towards a “longer and healthier life”, adding: “Life is precious and Stoptober is all about supporting and encouraging each other to quit - potentially adding years to your life.”
She added that 50% of long-term smokers die prematurely as a result of their habit, making it the country’s biggest killer. Smoking causes 100,000 premature deaths in the UK each year, costing the NHS some £2.7bn, she said.
Public Health England’s director of health and wellbeing, Professor Kevin Fenton, said that along with local stop smoking services campaigns like Stoptober played a “huge role” in helping people to kick their habit.
Although smoking levels are falling across the country as a whole their still remained high in some areas, he said.
Professor Fenton added: “We want every smoker to consider making a quit attempt this October and join the thousands of people who are feeling the benefits from stopping smoking last year.”
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