Smokefree Kent wants Dartford and Gravesend smokers to kick the habit for good
PUBLISHED: 14:37 08 October 2013 | UPDATED: 14:37 08 October 2013
A challenge is being made to smokers to quit their potentially life-ending habit for 28 days.
Stoptober, a national campaign, is being held throughout this month.
According to Susan Piddock, manager of Smokefree Kent’s core team, if you can give up for 28 days then you will be through the worst of it.
She said: “You’re five times more likely to stay off the cigarettes if you can stick to the 28 days.
“The problem for a lot of people is that they give up if it doesn’t work the first time they try to quit.
“With Stoptober, you get a lot of support and don’t feel isolated. It’s like you’re part of the community and that gives people an extra push.”
Smoking fact file
Cigarette smoking is the single greatest cause of illness or premature death in the UK.
About 100,000 people die each year due to smoking-related illnesses.
Only about half of long-term smokers live past the age of 70.
About 30,000 people die from lung cancer in the UK every year – eight in 10 cases are directly linked to smoking.
Experts think, if current quitting trends continue, smoking could be stubbed out by 2050.
Doctors say that those who stay smoke-free for four weeks are five times as likely to steer clear of cigarettes than those who don’t see out Stoptober.
During Stoptober last year, 233 people locally set a quit date with the service and 138 were successful at the end of the 28-day challenge.
One individual taking on Stoptober is Dartford resident Karli Warwick.
She has the added obstacle of living with her daughter, who still smokes.
Karli said: “It’s been three months now and it’s been much easier than I thought it would be.
“I’ve tried so many times before and I’ll give up for three or four weeks but won’t keep it up. I’ve found the one-on-ones very useful.
“I think my daughter’s been smoking less because of it, so that’s another bonus.”
Since the successful launch of Stoptober last year, more than 160,000 people have quit and Smokefree Kent runs stop smoking clinics across the county.
People will also receive daily text messages of support if they wish.
There are weekly sessions in Dartford, Gravesend, Swanley and Swanscombe.
Anyone who is joining in the Stoptober challenge gets a free pack to help them get through the 28 days.
This includes daily cards which explain the health and financial benefits of giving up, as well as a stress ball to give people something to do with their hands while they are working off the frustration.
James Sutton, from Dartford, smoked on and off for almost 45 years before giving up in June 2012.
He said: “It was much easier than I thought it was going to be when I decided to quit for good.
“I’ve realised I hate the smell of cigarette smoke and I’ve forced myself to be around people who smoke to remind me of that.”
Susan smoked for 20 years before quitting 18 years ago, and thinks that shows it’s possible to quit no matter how many years have passed.
She said: “You’ll feel the benefits almost immediately – it will help your breathing, you’ll have more energy and you’ll realise being a non-smoker is much better than being a smoker. No-one ever died from giving up.
“The longer you keep the habit the harder it will be.”
The Kent stop smoking service is urging people to stay away from cigarettes when Stoptober comes to an end, and Dartford Council is firmly behind the initiative – as almost 20 per cent of residents in the borough are said to be smokers.
Cllr Ann Allen, lead member with responsibility for health, said: “Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.
“There is lots of support available across Dartford which will help you give up for good.”
For more information about services available in Dartford and Gravesend, visit smokefreekent.co.uk, call 0800 849 4444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.