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Stoptober is proof that comedy isn't the new rock 'n' roll (and never was)

So that went well.

It was announced yesterday that more than 215,000 smokers joined Stoptober, the annual taxpayer-funded quit smoking campaign.

Many were inspired, perhaps, by the gentle coaxing of comedians Al Murray, Rhod Gilbert, Shappi Khorsandi and Bill Bailey (above). Or maybe they weren't because the number of people who signed up was 15 per cent fewer than in 2014.

Naturally Public Health England had a ready-made excuse for the relative failure of Stoptober 2015. The drop, they said, reflected the year-on-year decline in smoking rates in England.

Except it didn't because the fall in smoking rates in England in 2014-15 is nowhere near 15 per cent, a fact rightly mentioned in this report Fewer people joined Stoptober smoking challenge. (H/T journalist Peter Russell.)

Meanwhile the Oxford Times reports that 'Smoking target missed by 50% as fewer quit cigarettes habit':

A plan to reduce the numbers of smokers across the county has failed to meet its target by almost 50 per cent so far this year, says a county council report.

Some 913 people were expected to quit smoking between April and June, but 477 did, according to the performance report of the county council's Health Improvement Board.

The target set for this period is part of a larger plan to get at least 3,650 people to quit smoking for at least four weeks across the year.

Last year, 1,955 people quit smoking for at least four weeks over the same period, says the report, while 3,800 were expected to.

Some people will of course suggest that e-cigarettes are the reason these state-sponsored initiatives are failing. Who needs a calendar to quit when you can switch to vaping any time you please?

That may be a factor but the principal one, I'm sure, is warning fatigue, while the noxious sight of four comedians preaching what they didn't practice when they were younger is wearing thin.

My advice to Al Murray, Rhod Gilbert, Shappi Khorsandi and Bill Bailey? Take a leaf out of the great Keith Richards' book and mind your own business.

PS. Just to show we're not against quit smoking initiatives per se, here is Forest's response to the end of Stoptober 2015, as quoted by one local newspaper:

"Good luck to anyone who wishes to quit smoking. It's important to remember however that millions of adults choose to smoke and a great many enjoy smoking and don't want to stop.

"We're not against initiatives like Stoptober but tobacco is a legal product and an adult's decision to smoke must be respected. Smoking cessation must be based on choice not coercion or social engineering."

See Thousands try to quit smoking in North East this month (Northumberland Gazette).

See also Stoptober 2015 concludes (Public Health England).

Finally, a serious question. How much does Stoptober cost the taxpayer? Just asking.

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Reader Comments (5)

"This time it's personal." #Thugs. Don't they see how personal it's been since 2007? Perhaps they also support the actions of that bully screeching at the women minding her own business as she smoked a legal product in a street in Australia.

I know you hate the use of that word but these people must be made to see that they are supporting hate and "help" has got nothing to do with it.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 14:05 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

" How much does Stoptober cost the taxpayer "
Well this council spent almost £170.00 in three months. Pretty frightening if this appalling waste of money is replicated by every council in the country.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 17:28 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

Washed up comedians will do anything to get their mugs in the paper.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 17:50 | Unregistered Commenterann

Stoptober is nothing more than a month of antismoker propaganda. The only good this about this year's festival of intolerance is that it appears to be losing steam. I'll the start of November with a cigarette!

Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 16:49 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

It doesn’t help, either, that the whole “Stoptober” campaign just happens to coincide with the equally nauseating “Sober October” anti-booze one. Clearly Alcohol Control would seem to be (at the moment) not quite so well-funded as Tobacco Control, because there’s much less of a song and dance about “Sober October,” and no brownie-points-collecting comics trying to make the whole thing sound like jolly-hockey-sticks “fun,” but there was enough publicity for my (non-smoking) OH to exclaim: “Are they seriously expecting people to give up both cigarettes and alcohol for a whole month? What planet are they living on? One or the other, maybe, but both together? Why couldn’t one of them have chosen a different month?”

My explanation that this was the “battle of the catchphrases” (such things, it seems, are Very Important Factors indeed to puritans the world over) and that neither side wanted to give up “its” catchy campaign name or have to think of a new one, fell on deaf ears. But then, as a never-smoking ale-lover, I guess he’s still fairly new to the game and hasn’t yet been the subject of a concerted, long-haul, hate campaign like smokers have. But he’ll learn. Alcohol Control is only just getting its boots on; once it’s up and running the lies and exaggeration and – yes – the oft-repeated anti-drinking mantras will come thick and fast …

Just for the record, out of the two, I personally think that “Sober October” is a much better catchphrase than the rather tortured “Stoptober.” At least it rhymes.

Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 23:32 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

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