Stoptober quit-smoking campaign will take place largely on Facebook


Health leaders are to spend over £500,000 on Facebook advertising to try to encourage smokers to quit.

Instead of the usual drive of TV, newspaper and radio adverts, this year's "Stoptober" campaign - which encourages smokers to kick the habit for 28 days - will be largely online.

Speaking at the Public Health England (PHE) annual conference at the University of Warwick, PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said that almost three-quarters (73%) of smokers are Facebook users.

Smoker stubs out a cigarette
(Jacques Brinon/AP/PA)

"We are about to launch Stoptober, this is the fifth year," he said.

"Last year one in five smokers had a quit attempt. You know what the numbers say, if you can go at this for 28 days you are five or six times more likely to never smoke again.

"We see a big spike in October of people having a go.

"This year we are going to do it for 20% of what we managed last year. Last year we spent £5 million."

(Steve White/AP/PA)

PHE are going to spend £1 million on advertising in total, including £545,000 on Facebook.

He added: "We have actually got 15 million ex-users in this country now. Nine million that are still smoking and we have every reason to believe that in one or two generations we will be tobacco free."

Commenting on the news, Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "This is a waste of taxpayers' 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."