Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health - and your wallet. And with Stoptober beginning on 1st October, there's never been a better time to try and quit!
Stoptober is an annual event encouraging smokers to stop smoking for 28 days during October. But even though many want to, stubbing out their last cigarette can be challenging for many smokers. This is because the nicotine in tobacco smoke is highly addictive.
The research behind the Stoptober event is that if you can quit for 28 days, you're five times more likely to stop for good. 
Why quit smoking?
Smoking increases your risk of developing many serious but preventable health conditions. The tar content in cigarettes damages the lungs and tobacco smoke contains over 5,000 chemicals that can pass into your blood and spread through your body causing damage. 
Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking-related causes, with many more living with debilitating and irreversible smoking-related illnesses. 
Although smoking increases your risk of many serious illnesses, most smoking deaths are due to:
- lung cancer
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and
- cardiovascular (heart and circulation) disease.
On average, smoking reduces your life expectancy by ten years. After you reach 40, each additional year you smoke reduces your life expectancy by another three months. 
It's a common belief that smoking helps you relax. But the addictive nature of nicotine means smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to develop depression over time. 
Smokers also lose a large part of their income. It is estimated that the average smoker spends £2,000 per year on tobacco. . With the cost-of-living crisis looming and everything going up in price, cutting down on unnecessary expenses has never been more important.
How Stoptober can help you stop smoking
A range of free support is available to smokers through the Stoptober campaign at https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/. For example, the NHS Quit smoking app allows you to:
- track your progress
- see how much you're saving
- get daily support
There are also free specialist services to help smokers give up through the NHS. These services are staffed by expert advisers and provide a range of proven methods to help you quit. You can find out more about these services at https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/find-your-local-stop-smoking-service/
When you quit smoking, you give yourself the chance to live a longer and healthier life.
How ECIS can help
ECIS offer Bupa health assessments at discounted rates for employees worried about the impact smoking has had on their health. Discovering health issues in their early stages usually means a much better prognosis, and early detection and intervention saves lives every year. There are a range of assessments available, so you can pick the one that's right for you.
If an ECIS Private Medical Insurance Scheme member is worried about symptoms related to their smoking, they can contact the Bupa Direct Access service, which will triage them without the need for a GP referral. Employees can also directly speak to the Bupa cancer team about their symptoms. The clinically led team will assess their condition and guide your employees to the most appropriate course of action, which could include being referred to a consultant.
If you want to quit smoking, make a note in your diary for the 1st October and make full use of the support available to you.
Good luck to all those taking part in Stoptober. We hope you are successful in kicking the habit and improving your health.