Published: 06:00, 19 September 2019
| Updated: 08:39, 19 September 2019
The number of people smoking in Kent is at the lowest it's ever been, according to figures.
Despite this, thousands of people in the county still smoke and now Public Health England (PHE) is trying to encourage them to ditch the cigarettes for Stoptober.
Scroll down to hear from a Gravesend man who quit smoking almost a year ago.
The government agency wants people to take part in the "nation's biggest attempt to quit", which starts on Tuesday, October 1.
Campaigning will focus on how smokers can "split up" with the habit and re-evaluate their bad relationship with smoking.
Gravesend resident Pascal Benn, 43, had trouble kicking his addiction until he tried Stoptober last year.
He said: "What started as an on and off occurrence at school, turned into 15 a day. I tried to quit in the past using various aids but I was not successful. Around 12 months ago, I decided to do Stoptober, challenging myself to quit smoking for the entire month of October.
"Good news, I was successful and have been smoke-free since! Now I feel disgusted at the sight of a cigarette and have come to realise that the cigarette was in control of me, not the other way around.”
Jason Mahoney, health and wellbeing programme lead at Public Health England South East, said: “Stoptober is a perfect time for smokers to try and end their harmful relationship with smoking – however many times they may have tried in the past.
"The annual campaign provides the perfect opportunity for family, friends and colleagues to work together towards quitting smoking for good.
“Now more than ever before there are a host of quit smoking aids and free support services available. I would encourage anyone thinking of quitting to visit the Stoptober website, make a plan and commit to quit with Stoptober.
"Evidence shows you are more likely to quit with support from a local stop smoking service than if you try to go it alone.
“The biggest cause of preventable deaths in England is smoking and no matter how long a person has smoked, quitting really is the best thing a smoker can do for their health.
"Quitting smoking is the best thing a smoker can do for their health." - Dr Rosemary Leonard
"By committing to quit you will join thousands of smokers across the South East this Stoptober who want to make a positive change to their health.”
Research from PHE explained that the most common obstacles smokers face when trying to quit are procrastination and a fear of failure.
Dr Rosemary Leonard, a GP and medical broadcaster, encouraged non-smokers to support loved ones trying to make the change.
She said: “We know it can be hard to give up smoking but now is the time to give it a try, whether it’s the first time or you’ve tried before.
"The Stoptober community can really help with motivation and staying on track. Additional support is also available from a variety of places including local stop smoking services, GPs, pharmacies and of course, the Stoptober and NHS Smokefree websites.
"Quitting smoking is the best thing a smoker can do for their health — Stoptober is a brilliant chance to quit with others for 28 days and see the benefits for yourself. If you’re a non-smoker, use this chance to support a loved one as they split up with smoking this Stoptober.”
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More by this authorSean McPolin