With the development of the nicotine patch in 1992, the national rollout of stop smoking services in 2000, the UK-wide ban of smoking in public places from 2007, and stark picture warnings on cigarette packs in 2008, you might be forgiven for thinking smokers now have access to all the help they need to rid themselves of their addiction.
But the truth is that while the amount of people who smoke had been going steadily down since the fifties, in the last six years that decline has stalled. Although nearly two out of three want to quit and one in ten tell us they're 'desperate' to get rid of their addiction, around 20% of the UK still smoke. This 'final fifth' is mainly made up of long-term smokers, or people surrounded by family, friends and colleagues who smoke.
Catalyst for quitting
The average smoker makes more than four quit attempts, and 40% say they've tried between four and 21 times. That it can take multiple attempts is the first and strongest argument for carrying on with quit campaigns like No Smoking Day and Stoptober. They can act as a valuable catalyst for quitting - a chance to do so when others around you are doing the same, giving you moral support and a renewed chance to give quitting a go when you've tried countless times before.
Having an annual event also means the campaigns can adapt to the mood of the nation - this year, with the recession biting, we're focusing on how much money the average 20-a-day smoker can save - £2,555 in a year, £210 in a month, and £47 in just a week.
These regular updates also mean the campaign can take advantage of new trends in technology. The 2013 campaign is using smartphone app Blippar to hijack cigarette packs. The phone's camera virtually transform the pack in their hands into items smokers could afford if they quit - as if by magic.
These kinds of limited-time events tend to be criticised as symptomatic of the 'nanny state', but the truth is anything but. We know that more than eight in 10 smokers have tried and failed to quit. No Smoking Day exists solely so that smokers who want to quit get all the support they need to give it a go.
A smoke-free UK?
The British Heart Foundation has an ambition for No Smoking Day ultimately to make every day a no smoking day. But as hard as we will try to achieve this, we know we can't do it all by ourselves. We need help to reach out to smokers struggling to quit, and commitment to making it less attractive for young people to start smoking in the first place.
So this No Smoking Day we're calling for UK governments and local authorities to step up the levels of help available for struggling smokers through increased and more effective local support services, and to implement new laws to strip away the glamour of smoking with 'standardised' plain packaging.
This kind of action would signal the beginning of the end for smoking as a major cause of premature death here in the UK - an outcome that's good for everyone.
Smokers who want to quit and readers who want to find out more about 30 years of No Smoking Day should visit wequit.co.uk.
Video: 30 No Smoking Days later: pursuing the final fifth
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