Residents are being encouraged by Hertfordshire County Council to quit smoking, and participate in this month’s national Stoptober challenge.
The upper-tier local authority is inviting people to sign up to its free stop smoking support service.
Now in its 10th year, Stoptober encourages smokers to try and give up for 28 days in October.
Stopping for this amount of time means you are 5 times more likely to quit smoking for good.
During the first lockdown, the proportion of 18-34 year olds who smoke in England increased by 25% – with over 652,000 more young adults smoking compared to before the pandemic, according to a recent study led by University College London (UCL).
The number of individuals who successfully quit smoking after accessing help through Hertfordshire Health Improvement Service (HHIS) has doubled over the past 12 months.
Last year, Emma Longthorne used the stop smoking service in Hertfordshire.
The 24-year-old started smoking when she was 12 and had tried to give up several times, but was unsuccessful.
Emma was smoking 20 a day when she contacted HHIS.
After using nicotine replacement patches and gum, she has not smoked since April 2020.
Emma Longthorne said: “I feel so much better since I’ve stopped smoking. I didn’t expect the patches to work, but they really helped.
“I don’t need them anymore though, I just have the occasional piece of gum if I’m feeling stressed.
“My mum smoked all her life and she’s been so impressed that she’s giving up now too!
"Having the weekly contact with the advisor really helped and I don’t think I would have been able to do it otherwise.
“It’s nice to know there is someone supportive at the end of the line. It’s always worth trying. If you never try, you’ll never know if you can do it.”
Hertfordshire’s Executive Member for Public Health and Community Safety, Councillor Morris Bright MBE, added: “We want to improve the health and wellbeing of Hertfordshire’s people so that everyone has the best opportunity to live life well, which is why we are supporting Stoptober.
“Following on from the effects of the pandemic and the increase in smoking behaviours, this year's Stoptober mass quit attempt is more important than ever, especially as smokers are susceptible to increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
“If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health. We’re proud to be able to say that the number of people who have successfully stopped smoking with our support has almost doubled over the past year.”
There are 300 local stop smoking services in Hertfordshire currently offering residents 12 weeks of behavioural support, advice on quit methods and help from trained advisors.
People are also given access to a range of material and resources to help make their journey as successful as possible.
The Stoptober campaign provides a range of quitting tools including a free NHS app, and support group on Facebook. Further details can be found here.
For more information on Hertfordshire Health Improvement Services’ local stop smoking offer, visit the Health in Herts website at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/smoking
Contact Hertfordshire Health Improvement Service (HHIS) on:
Freephone: 0800 389 3998
Text: 'SMOKEFREE' to 80818