Smokers in Nottingham are being urged to kick the habit by taking part in Stoptober – the annual call-to-quit from Public Health England.
The 28-day challenge, running in October, targets people who would like to stop smoking and provides them with the help and support to do it.
Last year, around 2.5 million smokers across the country attempted to quit and 500,000 (20%) were successful – the highest recorded success rate and up from 13.6% six years ago.
Locally in Nottingham, 24% of the adult population smokes compared with 18% in the East Midlands and 17% nationally. The city figure is down from 37% in 2009.
A range of support tools are available this year as part of the Stoptober campaign. These include information about local stop-smoking services, like New Leaf in Nottingham City, motivational emails and app messages.
Also, with the new Facebook Messenger ‘bot’, smokers can send an ‘SOS’ message whenever they feel the craving for a cigarette and it will respond with a suggestion of how to get past the moment.
This year’s Stoptober comes just a few months after standardised packaging was brought in across the country. MPs voted to introduce plain packs in March and by May 2017, all cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco will no longer be allowed to be sold in brightly-coloured, stylish packs.
Instead the packs will all be in a dark, olive-green colour and feature prominent health warnings, graphic images and will carry no trademarks, logos or branding. The make of cigarette will appear in the same standard font and size on the front.
Australia was the first country to introduce standardised packaging in December 2012. Since then:
• Fewer young people have taken up smoking
• Smoking prevalence has gone down
• Tobacco sales have reduced
• Children’s exposure to second-hand smoke has lessened
Furthermore, Australian smokers started to:
• Find their cigarettes less appealing
• Hide their packs in social situations
• Smoke less in outdoor restaurants, bars and cafes
• Smoke fewer cigarettes overall
Councillor Alex Norris, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health at Nottingham City Council, said: “There are a number of reasons why smokers may decide they want to quit this year for Stoptober and all the help they need is on hand – including an interactive Facebook app.
“Smoking has a huge impact on the health of Nottingham’s citizens. It is a major cause of illness and is responsible for much of the differences in health between the richest and poorest people in our city.
“Stoptober is perfect for those smokers who want to quit. We can raise awareness of the damage smoking causes and the positive alternatives available, but ultimately it is down to the individual to take that initial decision. We understand how daunting it can be to give up tobacco but support is available every step of the way.”
The City Council was the first in the East Midlands in 2011 to introduce a voluntary ban on smoking in playgrounds and around school gates. It was followed by a motion passed in September 2014 where the authority agreed to introduce more smokefree areas where the public wanted them, including the Beach and Winter Wonderland in 2015.
This was followed by a Smokefree Summer 2016 where smokers were asked not to light up at a number of high-profile Nottingham events, including the Deliveroo Beach, Splendour and the BMI Park Hospital Nottingham Riverside Festival.
Evidence shows that smoking is a social norm in many less affluent communities and children who grow up around family members and friends who smoke are much more likely to become smokers themselves.
Anyone wanting more information or support to stop smoking can contact New Leaf on 0800 561 2121 or 0115 883 1540, text NEW to 80800 or visit http://www.newleafstopsmoking.co.uk
For more information about Stoptober, visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/stoptober/