How effective and cost-effective was the national mass media smoking cessation campaign 'Stoptober'?

Jamie Brown*, Daniel Kotz, Susan Michie, John Stapleton, Matthew Walmsley, Robert West

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: A national smoking cessation campaign based on behaviour change theory and operating through both traditional and new media was launched across England during late 2012 ('Stoptober'). In addition to attempting to start a movement in which smokers would quit at the same time in response to a positive mass quitting trigger, the campaign set smokers the goal of being smoke-free for October and embodied other psychological principles in a range of tools and communications. Methods: Data on quit attempts were obtained from 31,566 past-year smokers during nationally representative household surveys conducted monthly between 2007 and 2012. The effectiveness of the campaign was assessed by the increase in national quit attempt rate in October relative to other months in 2012 vs. 2007-2011. Results: Relative to other months in the year, more people tried to quit in October in 2012 compared with 2007-2011 (OR. = 1.79, 95%CI. = 1.20-2.68). In 2012 there was an approximately 50% increase in quitting during October compared with other months of the same year (9.6% vs. 6.6%; OR. = 1.50, 95%CI. = 1.05-2.15), whereas in 2007-2011 the rate in October was non-significantly less than in other months of the same period (6.4% vs. 7.5%; OR. = 0.84, 95%CI. = 0.70-1.00). Stoptober is estimated to have generated an additional 350,000 quit attempts and saved 10,400 discounted life years (DLY) at less than £415 per DLY in the modal age group. Conclusions: Designing a national public health campaign with a clear behavioural target (making a serious quit attempt) using key psychological principles can yield substantial behaviour change and public health impact.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-58
    Number of pages7
    JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    JB's post is funded by a fellowship from the UK Society for the Study of Addiction. RW is funded by Cancer Research UK . We are grateful to Cancer Research UK, the Department of Health and Pfizer for funding this study. This study is partly funded by Pfizer under an investigator initiated award. At the outset data collection for the Smoking Toolkit Study was also supported by GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson and Johnson. The research team is part of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies.


    • Cessation
    • Cost-effectiveness
    • Mass media
    • Quitting
    • Smoking
    • Stoptober


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