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Tuesday
Sep132016

Stoptober and the law of diminishing returns

Remember my posts about Stoptober 2015?

In February it was reported that the annual quit smoking campaign organised by Public Health England gave £195,000 of public money to four comedians – Al Murray, Bill Bailey, Rhod Gilbert and Shappi Khorsandi – in the hope it would encourage smokers to kick the habit.

This was the second time Murray had been recruited to promote Stoptober. In 2014 he was joined by another "team of British jokers", Paddy McGuinness, Andi Osho and Simon Brodkin.

Well, as I had reported last year, fewer people joined the Stoptober smoking challenge in 2015 than the previous year. In fact, numbers fell by a whopping 15 per cent.

Desperate to reverse this downward trend, Duncan Selbie, CEO of Public Health England, today announced that PHE will spend £1m on advertising - with more than half going to Facebook - to promote this year's campaign.

One million pounds! At least there's no sign of Murray and his fellow comedians laughing all the way to the bank, but it's early days.

Anyway, here's what I had to say in a press release issued by Forest this morning:

"This is a waste of taxpayer's money. Quit smoking campaigns like Stoptober are increasingly ineffective because smokers are fed up being nagged and cajoled by government and other publicly-funded bodies.

"Last year the number of people joining Stoptober fell by 15 per cent compared to 2014. This happened despite the fact that Public Health England paid a total of £195,000 to four high profile comedians to support the campaign.

"Having failed with that initiative PHE is now spending even more money to promote the campaign on Facebook. It's crazy."

"The government should review its quit smoking strategy because it's clear that stop smoking services and campaigns like Stoptober are producing diminishing returns.

"At a time when resources are very tight we can ill afford public money to be spent like this."

You can read the full press release here – Stoptober: Facebook ads a "waste of public money".

Update: It's been reported on Twitter that this year's Stoptober budget has been slashed from £5m to £1m. So that's good news.

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Reader Comments (4)

Spotter once again provides an opportunity to expose tobacco control, lies, exaggerations, and intolerance.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 20:32 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

#Octabber still exists for those who love their tabs and don't want to quit. We are on Facebook and the web. Sadly no one gives us a million to promote our campaign.

For anyone who wants to show that they will not be coerced, bullied or threatened into quitting, or just to find a haven from the propaganda that will come, come and find us.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 12:50 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Every time I hear about yet more money being thrown at some increasingly-yawnworthy, same-old-same-old anti-smoking campaign, it just convinces me more and more that the NHS, far from being “close to collapse,” or “on the verge of bankruptcy,” as it so often pleads, must be awash with money. No private company wishing to survive the kind of hard times that the NHS claims to be going through, or indeed any private individual wanting to avoid eviction or repossession, would dream of continuing to splash the cash on worthless “luxuries” like this, especially if those luxuries were no longer providing the same kind of results that they used to.

The only organisations who can afford such unnecessary fripperies are those with lots and lots of money to spare. So the NHS sends out a huge signal every year which contradicts its tearful hand-wringing for the other 11 months by continuing to run gratuitous finger-wagging campaigns like these. There’s a big difference between actually being short of money and simply wanting more of it. Maybe someone should point out to the NHS that if they stopped wasting public funds on expensive campaigns focussing on an increasingly-small (is that an oxymoron?) number of people, they’d have more to spend on all those things that they currently claim that they haven’t got sufficient funds for.

And in any case, now that Stoptober clashes with Sober October – which seems to have stolen the limelight over the last couple of years, not least, I suspect, because it’s a much less contrived and cheesy catchphrase – if they were more sensible and less stubborn they’d scrap Stoptober and choose a different month! After all, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is likely to try and do both at once.

Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 0:52 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I suffered four hellish years trapped in a room at the top of a house where a chain-smoker gradually smoked himself into his grave. He slumped dead in his room early this year.
This sort of person is not going to be affected by any campaign to stop, he basically laughed at it all and it is a waste of money. The only way to go is to agree that cigarettes are against the human rights of the majority who want to actually live healthily. Go to Brixton station and you breath in a death cloud along the road from the station. These people are on their way to their graves and don't care who else they affect... Ban cigarettes and we can all be healthier. There may be some underground smoking going on but in the main the streets would be fresher and you would not see these sad people puffing away on poison at all..
...Grey, on the mortuary slab..
chest sliced open....
cause of death:" Lung Cancer"

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 12:26 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

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