Smokers encouraged to join Stoptober

Stoptober is back, so Buckinghamshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board is calling on local smokers to join more than 2.5 million others who have attempted to quit during the campaign, since the launch a decade ago in 2012.

Nearly 10% of Buckinghamshire adults still smoke, which is extremely worrying as smoking remains the single biggest behavioural cause of preventable death, with 64,000 deaths a year nationally.

This year's Stoptober mass quit attempt is as important as ever, with quitting being one of the best things a smoker can do for their health and for the health of the people around them. That’s why this year’s campaign is encouraging smokers to join the thousands of others who are giving quitting a go for the month of October – staying smoke free for 28 days means you’re five times as likely to quit for good.

Quitting will allow you to move better, breathe more easily, and give you more money to spend. With the rising cost of living, there’s never been a better time to quit. On average, smokers in England spend £38.59 on tobacco per week. Therefore, they could save £167.22 per month and £2,006.68 per year from quitting smoking.

Stoptober offers a range of free quitting tools and advice, including the NHS Quit Smoking app, Facebook Messenger bot, Stoptober Facebook online communities, daily emails and SMS, and an online Personal Quit Plan tool. Health and Wellbeing Board partners are delivering a range of local opportunities for smokers to get advice and start on their quitting journey.

Free and friendly local stop smoking support is provided by Live Well Stay Well. To get started all you need to do for help and advice on quitting smoking, is text ‘SMOKE’ to 60777 or visit the website.

Help and advice on how to stop smoking will also be available at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, where Tobacco Advisors will have a special Stoptober stall in the main Rotunda Restaurant at Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the 3, 4 and 5 of October, as well as at Wycombe Hospital main reception on the 6 and 7 of October.

The Trust will also launch a Tobacco Dependency Service for hospital inpatients on 10 October. This service will initially be piloted across three wards with two Tobacco Advisors who will be visiting patients on those wards, offering nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Once patients are discharged, they will then be referred to the Live Well, Stay Well community service.

Julie Fulea, Head of Nursing Buckinghamshire Mental Health at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"Oxford Health are looking forward to hosting a range of activities for staff and patients to help them get started on their smoke-free journey. Keep an eye out for our team, including Tobacco Dependency Advisors who will be on the wards and in the reception area at Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury throughout October."

Angela Macpherson, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health and Chair of the Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“We are working really hard in Buckinghamshire to reduce the harm caused by smoking. One of the aspirations in Buckinghamshire Council’s Tobacco Control Strategy is to achieve a smoke-free generation.

“As well as urging residents to take part in Stoptober, we have recently launched our first smoke-free playground zone and are campaigning at youth football matches around the county to make sidelines smoke-free, making smoking and vaping seem less of a normal activity.

“As part of Stoptober we will be working with our partners from Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board to highlight the benefits of giving up smoking and encouraging residents to take part in Stoptober this year.

Angela continued: “If you’re a smoker, sign up for this 28-day challenge – the benefits to your health start just 20 minutes after you’ve smoked your last cigarette. I know quitting can be extremely tough, but with local support from Live Well Stay Well and all the other help available from the NHS I’m sure you’ve got what it takes. You can do this!”

Peter Miller, Chair of Healthwatch Bucks, said:

“Smoking is still a major health concern in Bucks, with one in ten adults yet to kick the habit. While quitting is bound to be tough, it’s among the most important things anyone can do to support their own future health and wellbeing.

“The benefits extend beyond just the physical: smokers who stop report fewer feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, too. There’s a wealth of resources available for anyone keen to take on the 28-day Stoptober challenge – and as always, we at Healthwatch want to hear from people who use them. Your feedback on health and social care services in Bucks is vital for our work in helping to improve them.”

Andrew McLaren, Chief Medical Officer at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“Smoking kills people with significant numbers of smokers dying earlier than they should as a direct result of tobacco. We recognise that it can be tough to quit and tough to stick to quitting. Which is why I would urge smokers to access the support available online, and if you are visiting our hospitals please take time to meet our Tobacco Advisors at their Stoptober stands and ask about their service during your hospital stay. You don’t need to struggle alone!”