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Stoptober and the “eradication” of smoking

Stoptober 2018, Public Health England’s mass quit smoking campaign, is launched today.

Readers may recall that last year I had a long battle with PHE to find out how many smokers had signed up to Stoptober 2016.

See: Stoptober and the mystery of the missing evaluation.

Eventually, after a lot of prodding (including a Freedom of Information request), PHE told us:

We are releasing an evaluation document of Stoptober 2016 during Stoptober 2017; this will be available on the PHE website ... The original publication date was delayed.

Incredibly the four-page document was posted online on October 26, 2017, a full twelve months after the campaign it was evaluating finished.

See: At last! The Stoptober 2016 campaign evaluation report.

My suspicion is that had Forest not pursued the matter the report would not have been published at all.

This year we decided to take a softly softly approach and see if PHE would publish an evaluation report for Stoptober 2017 without being nagged to do so.

So far I’ve seen nothing to suggest they will, although they may be following a similar schedule for the 2016 report (ie publication towards the end of Stoptober 2018).

It does strike me as odd though that an evaluation report for a campaign conducted the previous year should appear only at the conclusion of the following campaign.

After all, you might think they would want to learn from the previous campaign and plan accordingly.

Anyway, after a series of C and D-list ‘celebrities’, the person PHE has chosen to front Stoptober 2018 is TV presenter Jeremy Kyle who has quit smoking after 35 years and is currently vaping:

“The thing that is really helping me stay smoke-free is vaping. I’m currently on the lowest nicotine strength and will then come off the e-cigarette altogether when the time is right for me.

“Since quitting I’ve learned just how important using support is and for people not to go ‘cold turkey’ – that certainly didn’t work for me in the past.

“If I can quit, I honestly believe anyone can quit if you just have the right support, and that’s what Stoptober is there to give you, and I want people to know that and to do it this year.”

See: Jeremy Kyle calls on smokers to quit smoking during Stoptober (ITV News)

As it happens, I don’t have a major problem with Stoptober. Indeed, aside from the evaluation issue, it seems less preachy that most anti-smoking campaigns.

I do however question its ‘success’ which seems to be measured in terms of the annual decline in the national smoking rate - the reasons for which are many and varied.

Indeed, I’d suggest that the main beneficiaries of Stoptober are not smokers who want to quit but the PR agencies employed at great expense to promote it.

Update: Channel 5 News contacted Forest yesterday to see if someone was available today for a quick interview about the campaign.

Unfortunately I’m in Birmingham all day today and unable to go to the ITN studios in London, which is their preferred location.

I will however be on the Matthew Wright Show (Talk Radio) at 3.30 discussing PHE’s claim that smoking could be “eradicated” in England by 2030.

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Reader Comments (4)

Public Health doesn't do evaluation. It makes up stats and figures for effect or to make the multimillion pound organisation look good to ensure the fat salaries and funding continue.

Stoptober may not be as preachy as other antismoker campaigns but it covertly pushes the idea that if you smoke you are not part of your community and therefore just as bad if not worse than some of the others.

You might like to tell Matthew Wright that this smoker will still be smoking in 2030 if I am still here, haven't died in a road accident, haven't caught some weird virus, haven't been killed off by medical error, or haven't been stabbed, attacked with acid, or any one of a myriad of causes that could end my life quicker than moderate smoking.

When the choice to quit is mine, and not something that over paid professionals and bloated Quangocrats force upon me, then I might think about it. At the moment there is only one choice I can make for myself and that is to keep smoking. I refuse to be bullied, coerced or harrased into quitting because some public health bloke on £220,000 a year is employed to intimidate me.

Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 12:42 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Well said Pat, I agree with you 100%

Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 15:30 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Kerr

Yes i shall continue enjoying my pleasure despite what all these bullies try to impose on us. I have found that a visit once or twice a year to enlightened countries like Austria and Switzerland is good to counter these nasty UK bullies.

Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 16:37 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

'Stoptober' should be turned on its head by exposing the lies and manipulated data used by tobacco control extremists to further their persecution of smokers and ensure their own power and profit.

Friday, September 21, 2018 at 0:16 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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