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Why there’s never been a better time to stop smoking

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Public Health England (PHE) has just launched its annual Stoptober campaign, which is based on the insight that if you can stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to be able to quit for good.

Professor Viv Bennett

Professor Viv Bennett

Professor Viv Bennett

So now is a great time to think about how you can best use your skills and contacts with patients and the public to help people quit smoking.

New data shows success rates for people quitting smoking are at their highest for at least a decade – up to 19.8% for the first six months of this year, significantly higher than the average for the last 10 years (15.7%).

Over the past few decades attitudes to smoking have changed significantly and nowadays two out of three adult smokers say they want to quit.

People’s reasons for wanting to give up will differ, but support and advice from a health professional is one of the most common reasons for someone trying to stop.

Nurses and midwives are in an ideal position to use their day to day contact to start these conversations and, as appropriate, point to resources that can help.

The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) provides free online training modules on delivering very brief advice for stopping smoking.

All Our Health is a PHE-led call to action for all health professionals to embed and extend prevention, health protection and promotion of wellbeing and resilience into practice and includes a chapter on smoking and tobacco.

So why not take this opportunity to raise the subject of quitting and signpost smokers to the Stoptober website where they will find a range of free support tools, including apps, email and social media support.

This year the campaign focuses on why there’s never been a better time to quit, with some of the reasons why including:

  • Better and more quitting aid options, with e-cigarettes now the most popular;
  • More restrictions on smoking;
  • Banning the use of attractive brand imagery on tobacco packaging;
  • A strong anti-smoking culture in England;
  • Supportive stop smoking campaigns such as Stoptober.

Last year over half (53%) of all those taking part in Stoptober opted to use an e-cigarette as a quitting aid. This year the campaign features e-cigarettes in the TV ad and will do more to encourage and support smokers who are keen to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

The evidence is clear: vaping is much less harmful than smoking – a fraction of the risk. So, for those who have struggled with quitting before, an e-cigarette may be the best option.

We know that people are often put off if they’ve already made several attempts to quit but health professionals can help with all important encouragement.

While for some smokers the thought of quitting may be daunting, the support available from Stoptober, and from the health professionals they come into contact with, really can increase their chances of succeeding.

Stoptober starts on 1 October. Search ‘Stoptober’ online for resources. 

Viv Bennett is chief nurse at Public Health England

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