Smokers urged to quit during Stoptober

In collaboration with the Press Association

Smokers are being challenged to move towards a healthier life by signing up for Stoptober, the 28-day non-smoking challenge.

Research shows that people who quit the habit for Stoptober and manage to stay off tobacco could gain an extra week of life for every 28 days they are smoke free. Launched by Public Health England, the challenge to the eight million smokers in England and Wales begins on October 1.

Cancer Research UK is urging smokers to sign up for the challenge and take their "first steps to a healthier, tobacco free future".

Kate Alley, the charity's tobacco policy manager, said: "Quitting smoking is the best thing smokers can do for their health. But some smokers find that breaking the addiction to nicotine can be difficult. Initiatives like Stoptober are hugely valuable in giving smokers dedicated quit support for an entire month.

"Tobacco continues to cause more than a fifth of all cancer cases and around a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK every year. Loosening the lethal grip of tobacco addiction must remain a priority if we are going to reduce the number of lives lost to smoking."

Smokers taking part in the challenge can give and receive encouragement through Stoptober social media. They will also receive a 28-day mobile phone app and text support with updates, quitting advice and tips for coping.

As well as the health benefits, quitting tobacco will save the average smoker more than £150 per month. Last year 160,000 people successfully completed the Stoptober challenge, saving a combined total of £25 million.

Smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in the UK, claiming over 100,000 lives and costing the NHS up to £2.7 billion every year, said Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies.

Half the nation's long-term smokers die prematurely from diseases related to smoking, but research has shown that those who stop for 28 days are five times more likely to remain tobacco-free.

The Chief Medical Officer added: "Life is precious and Stoptober is all about supporting and encouraging each other to quit - potentially adding years to your life.

"Taking part in the challenge is a first step to a longer and healthier life so have a go by stopping with Stoptober."

Copyright Press Association 2013