Stoptober – Gimmick Or A Long Term Strategy to Quit Smoking


 An estimated 180,000 smokers in the UK have joined the national campaign funded by Public Health England to encourage people to go through 28 days in October without a cigarette. It’s a strategy base around group support, intensive social media campaigning and practical support offered through information packs, text messages, mobile apps and daily emails. Stoptober’s Twitter feed already has over 13,000 followers so there are certainly plenty of other would-be quitters out there to share experiences with.

The Stoptober app is pretty good. It offers daily tips and badges that reward users for each day without a cigarette. It has a motivation function allowing you to carry a picture, video or audio clip around reminding you why you want to quit, a savings calculator to tot up all of the money you’re saving and a help button with content and games to distract you if you feel that you’re about to give into the cravings.

Does Stoptober really work though? The campaign states that over 160,000 UK smokers succeeded in the 28-day challenge last year, but is less forthcoming with data on how many of these successes carried on to quit for good – or for the last twelve months at least. My own view is that whilst quitting for 28 days certainly won’t do any harm, the focus on just reaching a set target of days is unhelpful. It’s a bit like giving up drinking for a month in January as a health kick – by 1st January most participants are desperate for a binge drinking session and spend the first few days of February in an alcoholic haze!

That said, I’m giving it a go. Research suggests that people who crack the four week target for going without a cigarette are five times more likely to quit permanently and the National Council for Smoking Cessation and Training argues that moral support is also an effective motivational tool. It’s been a while since I made a concerted effort to stop and it’s a method I haven’t tried before. I’m writing this post after dinner on day two, and it’s so far so good….



*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

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