smoking storyPublic Health England have announced that the smoking rate in England has also fallen to below 17% for the first time. The biggest decreases in smoking over the last four years can be seen in the South West (18.7% to 15.5%), the North East (22% to 18.7%) and Yorkshire and Humber (21.9% to 18.6%).

Smokers across the country are now being urged to take part in Stoptober and join nearly 15 million people who have already quit. Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20%) were successful; the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6% 6 years ago.

This increase in successful stop smoking attempts reflects the high number of people using quitting aids. 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, over 350,000 people used their local stop smoking service in 2015 to 2016.

Alongside this, according to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in England and Wales has dropped by 20% in the last two years.

Dr Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: "While we know that quitting smoking is not easy, this Stoptober is a perfect time to try again. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to stop smoking. There is more help and support available now than ever before. The introduction of standardised packs removes the glamorous branding and brings health warnings to the fore and e-cigarettes, which many smokers find helpful for quitting, are now regulated to assure their safety and quality.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing for PHE said: "While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England there are still over 7 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.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, added: "Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health. Coronary Heart Disease is the UK’s single biggest killer and by giving up smoking you’ll be dramatically reducing your chances of having a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke."