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Are you a quitter? Make this YOUR Stoptober

This Stoptober, smokers are being urged to sign up along with friends, family and colleagues, as evidence reveals ‘social quitting’ can dramatically improve chances of successfully stopping.

Stoptober is the country’s annual 28-day mass quit attempt, now in its fourth year. 

And this time it's personal! Led by Public Health England, NHS organisations and local authorities across the country have teamed up with top comedians Bill Bailey, Al Murray, Shappi Khorsandi and Rhod Gilbert to drive the serious message home in a fun way. 

Stoptober quitters will receive personal messages of support and encouragement from the celebrities by text or email to help keep them motivated. 

Nearly 18 per cent of West Midlands adults are smokers. To give themselves the best chance of quitting and to swell the ranks of the mass-quit bid, West Midlands residents are encouraged to sign up with their friends, family and colleagues, as evidence reveals that ‘social quitting’ can dramatically improve people’s chances of successfully stopping. 

Research shows that smokers are two thirds more likely to quit when their spouse stops smoking, and around a third more likely to quit when a close friend or someone they work with stops. Conversely, people are much more likely to smoke if their partner or a close friend smokes – showing the powerful influence that people’s social networks have on their own smoking behaviour.

Over a quarter of a million people across the country signed up to Stoptober last year with more than half making it to 28 days; this year, it is expected the campaign will welcome the millionth sign up. By stopping smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stop for good.

Rhod Gilbert said: “I smoked for about 25 years and probably spent 23 of those trying to quit, trying everything you can think of to kick the habit. 

"I know first hand that it can be hard to find the motivation to quit, but Stoptober is the perfect time to give it a go.

"Not only will you be joining thousands of others taking part, you’ll also have exclusive support from myself, Bill Bailey, Shappi Khorsandi and the Pub Landlord, as well as access to lots of other help along the way. My advice to those taking on Stoptober would be to take the 28 days one day at a time."

Stoptober 2015 comedians

Professor Kevin Fenton, national Director of Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England, said: “Stoptober will be providing people with more engaging and personalised support than ever. Along with receiving proven advice and support, participants this year will get encouragement every day from some of the best comedians in the country to help them reach 28 days smokefree. 

“The benefits of stopping smoking are almost immediate: quitters will soon see reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. It is one of the best things a person can do to improve their health and reduce their chances of developing long-term conditions and dying prematurely. Sign up today and get ready to start your quitting journey with our support on 1 October.”

Nearly eight million people in England smoke and smoking is still the number one cause of premature death nationally, causing nearly 80,000 deaths a year. An estimated smoking population of 787,158 in the West Midlands comes at a cost of £1.4 billion in costs to business from lost productivity due to illness and early deaths, to the NHS for smoking-related healthcare, and to local authorities from removing smoking-related waste.

By signing up to Stoptober, participants can choose from a range of free support tools including daily emails and text messages from the comedians throughout the  28 day quit attempt as well as a mobile phone app which includes lots more tips and advice - all of which have shown to increase the chances of staying smokefree.

To sign up to the nation’s biggest mass quit attempt, search Stoptober online or visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober. Or contact the Birmingham stop smoking service for free and friendly advice on 0800 052 5855 or by texting 'QUIT' to 80800.

•Read this story from early 2015 about how our stop smoking advisors teamed up with Birmingham Gateway Project lead contractors Mace to make a big impact on workers' smoking habits through onsite lunch-time drop-in sessions.