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Fastest drop in smoking rates in over a decade

Smoking in England is dropping at the fastest rate in over a decade, new figures suggest.

The latest data from the University College London Smoking Toolkit Study (STS) indicate that adult smoking rates fell 2.2% from January to July 2019 – equivalent to 200 fewer smokers every hour.

But millions still smoke across the country. The latest data from the STS, which looks at smoking and quitting trends based on monthly household surveys of around 1800 respondents, comes in the build up to Stoptober, the nation’s biggest quitting event.

Public Health England (PHE) is once again encouraging all smokers to quit for the month by asking them to re-evaluate their bad relationship and ‘split up’ with smoking this October.

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If a smoker can remain smoke-free for five days, they are five times more likely to quit for good.

Many smokers want to quit, but common barriers include procrastination and fear of failure, research by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training has shown.

However, smokers who receive face-to-face support from local stop smoking services are three times as likely to quit successfully as those who try to quit using willpower alone.

Stoptober’s free quitting support includes the Stoptober app, Facebook Messenger bot, daily emails, a personal quit plan and Stoptober online communities.

General practice staff can also give advice and tips to help smokers quit, including what smoking aids might be right for them.

Yvonne Doyle, director of health protection and medical director at PHE, said that there is still ‘a way to go’ for PHE to achieve their ambition of a smoke-free society despite the ‘encouraging’ figures.

She continued: ‘That’s why Stoptober is back and we are encouraging all smokers to take part. Giving up smoking is the best thing a smoker can do for their health and it can also help save money – in just 28 days smokers will start to notice so many benefits.’

There were an estimated 77,800 deaths attributable to smoking in 2017. This represents 16% of all deaths.