Stoptober is a new initiative by the Department of Health

Quitting smoking – if we could persuade people to make one change to their lifestyle, this would be it. Smoking is by far the most important preventable cause of cancer in the world.

It accounts for one in four UK cancer deaths, and nearly a fifth of all cancer cases.

That’s staggering.

Even more staggering is the fact that half of all smokers eventually die from cancer, or other smoking-related illnesses. And a quarter of smokers die in middle age, between 35 and 69.

But giving up smoking is notoriously tricky, as several of my friends have found recently. Thankfully, a new government initiative – Stoptober – could help thousands quit.

I’m a non-smoker and always have been. When I was 11, I had a rather nasty episode of whooping cough. Yes, I know that sounds like something from a Jane Austin period drama, but it wasn’t much fun starting secondary school with such a dramatic sounding cough. After that, I was never that keen on taking up smoking.

A lot of my friends did though. When I was studying music at Uni, the hall would pretty much empty during rehearsal breaks, as people went outside to light up. In the 8 years since I’ve left I’ve noticed a lot more people quitting, and the problems they encounter when trying to do so.

Quitting can be difficult. Many of my friends have gone ‘cold turkey’– it certainly works for some people, but for others it’s a hard route to a cigarette-free life. In fact, research shows that people are much more more likely to quit successfully if they get support, than if they try to go cold-turkey.

And from chatting with my friends, I don’t think people realise the amount of support available to them. On top of that, some of them worry that NHS Smoking Cessation services sound like some sort of local therapy session.

In reality, the NHS has many ways of helping people quit, which is why we at Cancer Research UK are backing the new Stoptober campaign. Studies show that if you can stop smoking for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to stay stopped. So Stoptober is an attempt to organise an en-masse quit. That way you can quit with a friend or colleague too.

They will gear you up through September so that you are already to start on 1 October and try to make the 28 day target. You’ll get:

  • a preparation pack, 28 day Quit Calendar and Health & Wealth wheel
  • support and encouragement through a daily messaging service, inspiration from celebrity mentors, and expert advice via:
    • a Stoptober smartphone app
    • regular text messages of encouragement

We think that, if you are thinking about quitting, Stoptober is a great way to do so! Here’s their website:


  • Alison Paul works in Cancer Research UK’s health marketing team