Last fact-checked 15 January 2021 | Report a factual error on this article
Since 2012, Public Health England’s annual STOPTOBER campaign has helped thousands of people to quit cigarettes for good. The Stoptober challenge is a completely free programme backed up with online support and convenient smartphone apps, and if you complete it, you boost your chances of quitting for good by a whopping 500%.
How does this 28 day quitting programme work, how do you sign up and what steps should you take to give yourself the best chance of success? We’ve been reading up on the Stoptober 2020 campaign and it looks like this year is going to be the best one yet.
Stoptober is an annual tobacco quitting challenge. Established by Public Health England in partnership with the NHS, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, Stoptober challenges its participants to stay off cigarettes for 28 consecutive days in the month of October.
Stoptober was launched back in 2012 with support from celebrities like Ian Wright footnote 1. Unlike other stop-smoking initiatives which encourage smokers to quit permanently, the Stoptober challenge covers a short, finite period of time. Smokers are asked to try and take a break from cigarettes for four weeks. The shorter time period seems to appeal to people: in less than a decade, almost two million people have signed up for the Stoptober challenge.
The NHS website has a whole section dedicated to Stoptober. To sign up for the Stoptober challenge, you first need to visit the link below:
This will take you to the Stoptober site, where you’ll find links to help you build a Personal Quit Plan, read up on Stop Smoking Aids and find your local NHS Stop Smoking service. The site also has an email support service you can sign up to and a freephone helpline where you can speak to trained stop smoking advisers.
It’s never too late to start Stoptober!
You have to start the challenge in October for it to ‘count’ as Stoptober, but the full 28 day period doesn’t have to fall within that month.
The Stoptober support team stays on hand to help quitters all year round, so even if you get to 31st October and you’re still in the middle of your 28 day quitting period, you’ll still be able to ask questions and talk to quitting experts.
We don’t know exactly how many people have quit tobacco as a direct result of Stoptober, so it’s hard to put an exact figure on Stoptober’s success. What we do know is that over 1.9 million people have used Stoptober to help them quit, and that if a smoker can go smoke free for 28 days, they’re 5 times more likely to quit for good. footnote 2
It’s still worth participating in Stoptober, even if you’re not confident that you can make it to the 28-day mark. The reason for this is because we start to feel the benefits of quitting after just 20 minutes. When you quit cigarettes, health benefits like an improved pulse rate, better blood flow through your heart and muscles and easier breathing come much faster than you might think.
Here’s a screengrab from the NHS website that shows what happens when you quit. More than half of these stats happen before you get to Stoptober’s 28-day completion point: footnote 3
In 2018, Stoptober helped tens of thousands of smokers in the UK. footnote 4 The government hasn't published stats for Stoptober 2019 yet, but there’s a good chance that the stats will be even better in 2020. The Stoptober app (available for download on the App Store or Google Play) has been downloaded thousands of times, and there’s a huge amount of activity on social media. footnote 5
Simple, Easy Social Media Support
It’s rare to find 75,000 people following a Government sponsored Facebook page, but that’s exactly what happens with Stoptober!
https://www.facebook.com/stoptober/ provides participants with a staffed social media account so that you can get an answer to whatever questions you might have about quitting as-and-when you need it.
If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to quit cigarettes in the past, Stoptober could be just what you need to get back on track.
The central premise of Stoptober is that if you’re a current smoker and you can stay smoke free for 28 days, you’ll be 5 times more likely to quit for good. What this means for you, if you’re someone who has failed to quit before, is that you can treat Stoptober as a short-term challenge — not a life-long one — and still improve your chances of quitting for good.
If you get to the end of the 28 day period and you go back to smoking, you will at least have learned some of the skills you need to quit permanently when you’re ready to do so. You’ll have the confidence to know that quitting is an achievable goal.
You can vape during Stoptober. Stoptober encourages participants to use stop smoking aids during the 28 day challenge. Stop smoking aids include nicotine patches, nasal sprays and e-cigarettes. If it helps you to stay smoke free for a full 28 day period, then it’s worth doing.
We’re biased towards vaping, of course, but any form of nicotine replacement is going to be helpful during Stoptober. Research has shown that if you maintain your nicotine intake when you quit, you have a better chance of success than if you quit ‘cold turkey’.
Nicotine is incredibly addictive. We did some research on the addictive powers of nicotine and we were shocked by what we found out. Take a look at our recent article to learn more about how addictive nicotine is.
Any method that boosts your chances of quitting cigarettes will prove useful when you’re completing the Stoptober challenge. Our advice is to take all the help you can get, including nicotine replacement and professional support.
Public Health England and the NHS have done a lot of research into this area. Most of us think that we can quit cigarettes using willpower alone, but the research has shown that the most effective way to quit cigarettes is to get support from a professional stop smoking expert. You can learn more about the best way to quit in our article: Quitting Cigarettes with E-Cigs: What the NHS Say
Try quitting tobacco this October
If you’re thinking of quitting or if you’re trying to quit this year, then Stoptober 2020 is the perfect opportunity. Smokers are at a greater risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms than non-smokers footnote 6, so if you’re a smoker, then an attempt to quit this year will be the best thing you can do for yourself, your family and the NHS.
Give Stoptober a go this year. You have nothing to lose, and if you’re successful, you could find you’re free of cigarettes by Christmas 2020!
We’re ready and waiting to support new vapers this Stoptober!
You don’t have to become a vaper to participate in Stoptober, but if you do choose to use vaping as a quitting tool, we’re here to help.
We swapped smoking for vaping years ago, and we’ve never looked back. We found that closing the door on smoking opened the door to a whole new world of flavours and textures. No matter what e-cigarette device you choose (read our e-cigarette guide here), you’ll find that there’s an e-liquid for everyone, and we’re more than happy to help you pick a flavour that works for you. Just give us a call!
Stay safe and happy vaping!
- John Boughey
Links & Citations
“Ian Wright said: ‘This is a fantastic campaign, which will really help encourage quitters to work together and give up cigarettes for good. I will be supporting everyone by showing ways to improve health and fitness for people of all levels, and to make sure the cigarettes stay stubbed out.’ ” - read more about the 2012 launch of Stoptober:
“Stoptober has supported over 1.9 million people on their quit journey to date – if a smoker can remain smokefree for 28 days, they are 5 times more likely to quit for good.” — quote taken from a 2019 Stoptober report, visible on the Government website at the link below:
This ‘What Happens When You Quit?’ infographic is a screenshot taken from the Stoptober website in September 2020 and is subject to change (no change as of 15 January 2021). Find up-to-date stats at https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking
The NHS says “If you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you're 5 times more likely to quit for good!”. The same page goes on to confirm that “E-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking cigarettes and can help you quit.”. See the NHS Quit Smoking page (same link as above) for more information.
“The 2018 campaign generated a greater volume of digital engagement in 2018 compared to 2017 with 276,703 website visits (an increase of 36% from 2017) and 51,786 app downloads (an increase of 41% from 2017). The increase in digital engagement is likely to be due at least in part to the strong online call-to-action which drove smokers to use the PQP.” - quote taken from the Stoptober 2018 Campaign Evaluation report, visible at the link below:
The current advice from the Government is that “if you smoke, you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and of more severe symptoms once infected. COVID-19 symptoms may, therefore, be more severe if you smoke. Stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health, including if you have an existing smoking-related disease. This is particularly important for both you and for our NHS at a time of intense pressure on the health service. E-cigarettes (vapes) can be an effective aid to stopping smoking and staying smokefree.” (accurate as of 15 Jan 2021 but subject to change)
The latest advice on the rapidly-developing COVID-19 situation and its impact on smokers can be found at the link below: