THIS IS the third year of Stoptober, a huge campaign with the commendable aim of persuading Britain’s smokers to quit.
Hows it’s going?
Hackney councillor Jonathan McShane, who specialises in health matters, says of this year’s campaign: “The great thing about the 28-day Stoptober challenge is that everyone is in it together.”
He encourages smokers to sign up, “so we can have even more successful quitters this year”.
More successful? Last year, 2013, 900 people took part in Hackney. At least, they may have taken part. Of the 250,000 smokers who took the pledge , 65% quit for 28 days (according to participants). Just over 162,000 quit for a month, in a population of 53 million.
Before you say “And then?” the people behind the scheme claim that if a smoker can go 28 days without a drag, he/she is five times more likely never
again to have to stand furtively puffing in the sleet outside a warm building as colleagues point accusingly through the windows.
“More likely”… yes, Public Health England puts it no stronger than “more likely”. Statistics, eh?
This year comedians Al Murray, Paddy McGuinness, Simon Brodkin/Lee Nelson and Andi Osho, above (supplied picture), will swap “fags for gags” to help puffters to give up for 28 days.
The big chimney said to the little chimney: “You’re too young to smoke” is unlikely to be one of their jokes.
Is a scheme with such a small effect on Britain’s adult smokers, estimated to number 10 million, worth its £6 million cost?
Of course, the aim is excellent and a dramatic decline in the prevalence of smoking has had a noticeable effect on the longevity of Britons.
But the question has to be asked, is Stoptober value for money? Or just a costly joke?
Hamish Scott 090914
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