Newcastle United footballers are backing a national campaign to help people quit smoking.
Players including striker Dwight Gayle and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey are fronting the club’s support for Stoptober and are reminding fans that it’s not too late to give smoking the boot for good.
The quit challenge is fronted by Public Health England, which is supported regionally by Fresh, in a bid to boost the number of people in the North East taking on the 28-day quit attempt.
Smokers across the region have embraced Stoptober during its first four years with around 47,000 sign-ups from the North East. It’s hoped thousands more will take their first step towards a smokefree life this year.
Newcastle players posed with a special ‘Stoptober 28’ shirt at their Benton training ground to remind smokers that it’s never too late to sign-up to quit.
Club doctor Dr Paul Catterson said: “The negative health consequences of smoking are now well publicised but we need to keep reducing the number of the people smoking in the North East each and every year.
“This campaign is an important vehicle to enable this change and bring about a healthier local population.”
The smoking rate across the North East has fallen from 29% of people smoking in 2005 to 22% smoking in 2012 and 18.7% smoking in 2015 – a drop of 3.3% over the past four years and around 189,000 fewer smokers in the last decade.
Alongside this, according to data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in the North East also dropped by 13.01% in 2015.
Someone who smokes a packet of cigarettes a day could save around £250 a month.
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “Stoptober provides a fantastic opportunity for smokers to give quitting a go, even if they have tried before and not succeeded. Every quit attempt is different and there’s a wide range of support and advice available for those keen to take that step.
“Players are role models and it is brilliant to see them backing this campaign.”
Professor Peter Kelly, PHE NE Centre Director, said: “Quitting is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health and reduce the chances of developing long-term conditions and dying prematurely.
“It is fantastic to have the support of our local clubs and if you know someone who is quitting, be sure to give them lots of encouragement!”
TV football pundit and ex-player, Chris Kamara, has also been supporting the campaign this year.
“Quitting smoking is hard and that is why we need to support each other,” he said.
“If you know someone giving it a go, give them encouragement. As we all know, team-work is a great way to achieve our goals; by taking part in Stoptober you’ll be joining a squad of thousands all embarking on their quit-smoking journey.
“And here’s the thing: if you quit for 28 days, you are five times more likely to quit for good, so go on, search Stoptober to find the best quitting method for you.”