People in Northumberland are being challenged to take part in Stoptober and join the nearly 15 million people across the country who have already quit smoking.
The smoking rate across the North East has fallen from 29 per cent of people smoking in 2005 to 22 per cent smoking in 2012 and 18.7 per cent smoking in 2015 – a drop of 3.3 per cent over the past four years and around 189,000 fewer smokers in the last decade.
Alongside this, according to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in the North East also dropped by 13.01 per cent in 2015. Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20 per cent) were successful - the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6 per cent six years ago.
This increase in successful stop-smoking attempts reflects the high number of people using quitting aids across England. In 2015, just over a million people (1,027,000) used an e-cigarette in a quit attempt while around 700,000 used a licensed nicotine replacement product such as patches or gum. In addition, more than 2,244 people set a quit date with support from their local stop-smoking service in Northumberland in 2015/16.
Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Services manager, Brenda Warner, says signing up for the Stoptober challenge is a good way for people to kick the habit, adding: "People can often make several attempts to go smoke free, but taking the first step is what’s important and getting the right help to do so means that people are more likely to be successful.
"Research has shown that people who stop smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to stop for good and people taking part in the Stoptober challenge can get friendly, free and professional support from their local NHS Stop Smoking Service.
"If you want to stop smoking and are considering using an e-cigarette, or are confused about which products are licensed as medicines and what to do about your smoking, then we are here to support you. Our NHS Stop Smoking Service advisors can help you decide on the best evidence-based treatment and tailor a support package just for you. It is never too late to stop smoking and the health benefits will be felt very quickly."
The Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service is provided by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Clinics are available in a range of venues including GP practices, pharmacies and community centres. Some out-of-hours clinics are also available for those who find it difficult to attend appointments during the day.
For information and support on stopping smoking, contact Northumberland Stop Smoking Services by calling 01670 813 135 or visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/stopsmoking
Coun Susan Dungworth, cabinet member for adult care and public health at Northumberland County Council, said: "It is good to see positive change in respect of smoking and that there has been an increase in successful stop-smoking attempts. The dangers of smoking are well-documented, as are the benefits of quitting, but it is often overlooked how difficult it can be for smokers to give up.
"A lot of smokers would like to quit, and we urge them to get in touch and find out about the help available. There is support that can be tailored to different people's needs and really make a difference to help people improve their health.
"You don’t have to kick the habit alone. Northumberland's stop smoking services are on hand to support quitters every step of the way."