Medical Specialists® Pharmacy has experienced a recent surge in the number of people coming to us enquiring about our smoking cessation treatment Champix, so much so that we have had to bolster our stock to cope with the huge demand for it.
This would seem to correspond with news this week coming from health officials that smoking rates in England have fallen to their lowest level on record.
Public Health England (PHE) have stated that 16.9% of the population across England are smokers – representing the lowest level since records first started.
Figures were reported by PHE ahead of the yearly Stoptober campaign which is set to kick off on the 1st October. The annual stop smoking event challenges smokers to quit for 28 days, as this means they are then 5 times more likely to give up for good.
Smokers trying their best to abstain for the month of October can at least take some comfort in the knowledge that many famous faces are in the same boat and looking to ditch the cigs.
Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, former cricketer and current regular gameshow guest Phil Tufnell, as well as former Atomic Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton are just some of the celebrities taking part this year.
The celebs will be hoping to join 14.6 million people across England that can now claim to be ex-smokers – more than double the estimated 7.2 million people that are currently still lighting up.
It is important to realise that smokers are at double the risk of suffering a heart attack compared to people that have never smoked, and smoking is the main cause of a wide range of cancers, heart disease and stroke.
The problem stems from the fact that smoking damages the lining of the arteries, reducing the available space for blood to travel through. In addition, the carbon monoxide contained in cigarettes also effects the amount of oxygen that can reach the heart and other areas of the body, forcing the heart to work much harder to supply the body with the oxygen it requires.
With most of the country now regular users of different social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, it is no surprise to learn that health officials have decided to primarily target the campaign online. Over £500,000 has been poured into Facebook advertising alone.
Duncan Selbie of the PHE recently commented how nearly ¾ of smokers use Facebook, so clearly reaching out to users of the site is a smart move.
Those looking to take part in Stoptober will be provided with numerous support aids to help them in their quest to last the 28 days, including the Stoptober app and a new Facebook Messenger tool.
During Stoptober 2015, an incredible 2.5 million smokers joined the campaign in an attempt to quit, but only around 500,000 people (20%) made it to the end.
Regional figures released by the PHE show that some areas that have seen the biggest drop in smoking rates in 4 years.
Smoking rates in the South West have decreased from 18.7% to 15.5%, in the North East the percentage of smokers has fallen from 22% to 18.7% and in Yorkshire and Humber the number of smokers has declined from 21.9% to 18.6%.
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said: “While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England, there are still over seven million people regularly lighting up.
“Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year.
Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.”
The Government’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Gina Radford, added: ‘While we know that quitting smoking is not easy, this Stoptober is a perfect time to try again.
“We have a range of free support that can go direct to your phone, laptop or tablet via the Stoptober app, a daily email service or Facebook Messenger bot. The new Stoptober website also has advice and information on stop-smoking services and quitting aids.”
Craig Revel Horwood said: ‘As a performer, I know the sense of satisfaction that comes in that final moment of completion after days and weeks of commitment and dedication, and together with the Stoptober support tools, it’s this taste of success which will help to keep me going in my quit-smoking attempt this October.
“In moments of weakness, just like I will be doing, I’d recommend quitters turn to the proven Stoptober support; from daily email alerts through to a dedicated app, Stoptober can help. Good luck darlings, we can do it.”
Ex-England cricketer Phil Tufnell, added: “I have smoked pretty steadily since I was a teenager, even through my cricket career.
“I have tried to give up before and know how tough it is, but I am going to try and quit again from 1 October.
“Even if you have tried quitting before like me and failed, just give it another go and keep trying.
“The more you try to quit the more likely you are to get there. Stoptober is here to help, so let’s try and get through to 28 days without a fag by taking it one day at a time.”
Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘We know that smoking is the number one cause of preventable early death, and that if you have a lung condition like COPD it is often the single most important thing you can do to turn your health around.
“On top of this human cost, smoking has been estimated to cost the economy over £10 billion a year. We therefore support public health campaigns like Stoptober that motivate and support people to quit.”