South East smoking rates the lowest on record

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Sales of cigarettes fell by 12 per cent across the South and South East between December 2014 and November 2015.

Smoking rates in the South East are now the lowest ever on record at 15.9 per cent, figures from Public Health England also show.

Those who still puff are being urged take part in Stoptober – the mass quitting challenge starting on October 1 – and join the nearly 15 million people across the country who have already quit.

Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers in England who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people, or 20 per cent, were successful - the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6 per cent six years ago.

Angela Baker, deputy director for Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England South East, said: “Stoptober is a perfect time for smokers to try and give up smoking – however many times they may have tried in the past.

“The annual campaign provides the perfect opportunity for family, friends and colleagues to work together towards quitting smoking for good.

“There is a range of free support available and I would encourage anyone thinking of quitting to sign up to the Stoptober 28-day challenge today.

“Quitting really is the best thing a smoker can do for their health and by committing to quit you will join thousands of smokers across the South East this Stoptober who want to make a positive change to their health.”

The smoking rate across the South East has fallen by 2 per cent over the past four years, from 17.9 per cent to 15.9 per cent.

Alongside this, according to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in the South and South East dropped by 12.68 per cent in 2015.

The success has been put down to the increasingly high number of people using quitting aids.

In 2015, just over a million people used an e-cigarette in a quit attempt, while around 700,000 used a licensed nicotine replacement product such as patches or gum.

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 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.

Ex- England cricketer and Question of Sport captain, Phil Tufnell, added: “I’m really pleased to be supporting Stoptober this year.

“I have smoked pretty steadily since I was a teenager, even through my cricket career. I have tried to give up before and know how tough it is, but I am going to try and quit again from 1 October.”

For more information, search Stoptober online and choose a package of support, which includes details of local stop smoking services.