By Joshua Robinson –
Stoptober has returned for 2023, with the primary aim of encouraging the nation’s smokers to attempt to quit smoking for the month of October and beyond.
As with previous Stoptober campaigns, this year’s campaign is founded on the evidence that if a smoker can quit for 28 days, they are five times more likely to quit for good. Stoptober is one of the UK’s most extensive health awareness campaigns that provides a supportive environment to quit smoking and highlights the many sources of help and advice available to smokers who want to give up the habit.
Quitting smoking for 28 days means you are five times more likely to stop for good, and last year, thousands of people successfully quit.
Smoking tobacco is harmful to the smoker’s health and the health of others. The environment can also be affected, and the costs of smoking can be a burden financially.
None of these facts are disputed; many smokers still find themselves smoking regardless, as they haven’t been motivated enough or feel that they don’t have the right level of willpower to quit.
The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme, funded by the five Public Health Departments, is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco.
The initiative uses multi-agency enforcement and community marketing campaigns to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.
To date, the programme has taken more than 11.5 million illicit cigarettes and 3.5 tonnes of illegal hand-rolling tobacco off the streets of West Yorkshire.
With more inspections planned in the coming weeks, these figures are set to increase.
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Training sessions with thousands of members of the public and hundreds of front-line professionals have been delivered to raise awareness about the dangers and wider criminality associated with the supply of illicit tobacco.
Linda Davis, Trading Standards Manager, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, the illegal trade in tobacco costs government millions each year in lost revenue, makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime.
“Members of the public should recognise the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with human trafficking and a wide range of organised crimes.”
Councillor Melanie Jones, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee, which oversees the work of Trading Standards, said: “The illegal sale of tobacco in communities enables and encourages young children to buy it cheaply.“Campaigns such as Stoptober are a great way for people to support each other, as you’ll find there are many people out there who want to quit but find it difficult.
“Highlighting the health and financial benefits of quitting tobacco use and tackling those that undermine it by supplying cheap and illicit tobacco is a brilliant and proactive way of spreading the message.”
If you need to report a trader selling cheap and illicit tobacco anonymously, please get in touch with the Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 0808 223 1133.
Anyone wanting help to quit can find their local Stop Smoking Service at: https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/