95% of ex-smokers see positive changes to their life soon after quitting, survey says
Stoptober is back and calling on smokers to join the thousands of others committing to quit from 1 October
A new nationwide survey released ahead of Stoptober shows nearly all (95%) ex-smokers see positive changes in their life as early as two weeks after quitting.
It comes as Fresh with councils in the North East encourage people to join the tens of thousands of people quitting for this year’s Stoptober’s mass quit attempt which launches on 1 October.
New research with ex-smokers, found some of the top benefits they saw within two weeks of quitting including:
- more energy (36%)
- feeling healthier (37%)
- breathing better (37%)
- as well as improvements in health, many respondents also noticed improvement in their ability to exercise (21%), healthier looking skin (24%), sense of taste returning (26%), and saving money (31%)
- on average, a smoker could save £38 a week by quitting smoking, which is around £2000 a year. 
While stopping smoking can be challenging, the survey also revealed interesting findings in terms of where people find support to quit, with family and friends (27%) and talking to others who have quit smoking (24%) rated as key motivators. Other top tips included finding a distraction from smoking such as keeping hands busy (38%), changing routine (33%) and going for walks (42%).
These findings reinforce the near-immediate improvements smokers can expect when they quit – including improvements to senses of taste and smell within as little as 48 hours.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said: “This Stoptober you can do it. It’s a chance for a new start. Believe in yourself and get the right support to beat the cravings – it can make all the difference.
“There are so many benefits to quitting smoking and it is never too late as your body starts to recover. Within weeks you feel fitter and can breathe easier. But as the weeks and months go by you reduce the risks of a life-altering disease.
“Within a few weeks you can feel calmer and less stressed. Quitting is also good for your family finances – it might not solve your money worries but it will ease them.”
Ex-smoker Claire Oldfield, a hairdresser from Whitley Bay was just 49 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer and had two thirds of her right lung removed. Unfortunately, due to complications in surgery, Claire went into respiratory failure and was in a coma for nine days, leaving her husband and three children wondering if she’d wake up.
Thankfully she pulled through and has now been cancer free and smokefree for nearly a year. She uses a vape to make sure she doesn’t start smoking again.
She said: “I look back now at all the chances I had to quit but you never think it’s going to happen to you. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Loads of other people are quitting for Stoptober so you have nothing to lose from giving it a go.
“Try switching to a vape to help you quit for good. It’s less harmful than smoking tobacco and helps you to manage the cravings. I know how hard it is but do it for your family.”
Care assistant, Damon Mowbray, 49 from Hartlepool, suffered a heart attack while at work aged just 46. Finding out it was caused by smoking was the motivation he needed to quit. He switched to a vape and two years on he’s smokefree and enjoying the extra cash.
Damon says: “Once I’d made the decision to quit, I actually found it easy as I knew that if I started smoking again, I was risking my health. I didn’t want to have another heart attack or go through the same experience again.
“I’d urge anyone who smokes to quit for Stoptober – don’t leave it until you’re really ill like me. Make sure you get support and find a quitting method that works for you.”
Smoking rates are declining and the North East has seen the largest fall in England, from 29% of adults smoking in 2005 to 13.1% in 2022. But over five million adults in England still smoke and smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death in the country – linked to 64,000 deaths a year.  The total cost from smoking to society in England is approximately £17 billion a year, this includes the cost to the NHS of treating diseases caused by smoking at approximately £2.4 billion a year. Smoking costs the North East a staggering £992 million a year. 
Stopping smoking also brings multiple long term health benefits, including a reduced risk of several cancers and lung diseases. Just one year after quitting, the risk of a heart attack is halved and after 10 years, the risk of death from lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker. 
Health Minister Neil O’Brien, said: “Smoking is the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death. When people quit smoking, the benefits are huge – they are healthier, wealthier and pressure on the NHS eases. Stoptober will motivate thousands to quit smoking this October by providing people with the support and confidence to go smokefree. We remain committed to our bold ambition to be smokefree by 2030, bolstered by a package of new measures giving vapes to a million smokers, new financial incentives for pregnant women to quit and new pack inserts to provide support for people to quit.”
Stoptober supports the government’s bold new measures – such as financial incentives for all pregnant women who smoke to quit – to help us achieve our bold ambition to be Smokefree by 2030.
Stoptober is based on evidence showing that if you can make it to 28 days smokefree, you’re five times more likely to quit for good. This year’s new campaign – ‘When you stop smoking, good things start to happen’ – is designed to highlight the immediate benefits smokers can expect when they stop smoking.
Ex-smokers The Only Way Is Essex star Bobby Norris and Love Island’s Malin Andersson are joining the campaign this year to tell their stories of how they quit successfully and encourage others to also give quitting a go.
Campaigner, broadcaster and former Love Islander Malin Andersson, said: “I quit two years ago because I was pregnant but was amazed to discover there are so many other benefits to stopping smoking, such as being able to breathe easier, I had more energy and just felt so much healthier. I used to smoke 8-10 cigarettes a day for 8 years – so I know how hard it can be to quit, but after seeing these improvements, I had to stick with it. This could be you too!”
Stoptober offers a range of free quitting support, including the NHS Quit Smoking app, Facebook support group, an online Personal Quit Plan and local stop smoking service look-up tool, as well as advice on stop smoking aids including information on how vaping can help you quit smoking.
For free support to quit this October, search ‘Stoptober’.
 HM Revenue and Customs, 2019. Disaggregation of HMRC tax receipts: methodological note. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/disaggregation-of-hmrc-tax-receipts.
HM Revenue and Customs, 2020. Measuring tax gaps 2020 edition – Tax gap estimates for 2018 to 2019. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/907122/Measuring_tax_gaps_2020_edition.pdf
OHID, 2020. Smoking Prevalence in adults (18+) – current smokers (APS) (2020 definition). https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/tobaccocontrol/data#page/4/gid/1938132886/pat/159/par/K02000001/ati/15/are/E92000001/iid/92443/age/168/sex/4/cat/-1/ctp/-1/yrr/1/cid/4/tbm/1/page-options/tre-do-1
Fidler J. A., Shahab L., West O., Jarvis M. J., McEwen A., Stapleton. A. et al. ‘The smoking toolkit study’: a national study of smoking and smoking cessation in England, BMC Public Health 2011: 11: 479 https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-11-479
OHID analysis. 2022. Based on the four sources above. To estimate the average spend per smoker data on tobacco spending from the Smoking Toolkit Study was adjusted based on Government data on tobacco tax revenue and illicit tobacco, due to expected under-reporting. This data was also matched to income and smoking prevalence data to estimate how spend on tobacco varies across England.
 NHS 2023 – https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/
 Office for National Statistics, Adult Smoking Habits in the UK: 2022 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2022; OHID analysis. 2022. Based on smoking attributable mortality (new method) 2017-2019. Local Tobacco Control Profiles – Data – OHID (phe.org.uk)
 ASH Ready Reckoner 2023 https://ash.org.uk/resources/view/ash-ready-reckoner
 NHS 2023 – https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/