This October will see the beginning of the sixth Stoptober. The 28-day event was set up by Public Health England to encourage people to stop smoking from the start of October.

Nicotinell, manufacturers of stop smoking products, have examined the following research to determine how successful Stoptober has been over the years:

How Stoptober is encouraging people to quit

Relevant keywords, examined through Google Trends data, provides valuable insight into how popular Stoptober has become.

Between August and July 2017, the average monthly search volume for the term ‘Stoptober’ in the UK was 18,100. However, spikes for this keyword were recorded in September and October of each year; the highest of which was with 266,570 searches in September 2014, followed by 87,410 searches in October 2014.

A similar pattern is found when examining UK Google Trends data. Where 100 refers to peak popularity, interest in Stoptober over time has seen interest peaking at 100 for the week of September 29th to October 5th 2013 when analysing the last five years of search data. There was also a score of 80 recorded in the week of September 28th to October 4th 2014— the highest score across the whole of 2014—and a score of 67 in the week of September 27th to October 3rd 2015, which was the highest score achieved for the entirety of 2015.

As we can see, people are searching to find more about the initiative when it is about to begin. However, what effect does the campaign have on related keywords?

Keyword – Stop smoking

The keyword ‘stop smoking’ was searched on average 14,800 times per month in the UK between August 2013 and July 2017. However, the following are spikes which have been seen for this keyword over the past few years:

  • There were 60,320 searches in September 2013.
  • 57,630 searches in October 2013.
  • 49,100 searches in September 2014.
  • 51,670 searches in October 2014.
  • 53,470 searches in September 2015.
  • 53,160 searches in October 2015.
  • 46,210 searches in September 2016.
  • 47,770 searches in October 2016.

Aside from 2016, September and October have been among the top three months for the highest search volume for the keyword ‘stop smoking’ since 2013. Only the month of January achieves higher search volume when New Year’s resolutions take precedence.

Keyword – Nicotine gum

On average, the keyword ‘nicotine gum’ was searched 1,000 times for the period covering August 2013 and July 2017. However, the following are among the spikes which have been seen for this keyword over the past few years:

  • There were 3,820 searches in October 2013 — a higher search volume than any month from August 2013 to and including December 2013.
  • 4,010 searches in September 2014 — the third highest search volume of the year, behind October 2014 and January 2014.
  • 4,280 searches in October 2014.

Keyword – Nicotinell

It is understood that people would search the words ‘Nicotinell’ if they were about to, or in the process of, quitting smoking. The average search volume for this keyword was 720 for the period between August 2013 and July 2017. However, some spikes have been recognised:

  • There were 1,460 searches in November 2013 — a higher search volume than for any month from August 2013 to and including December 2013. For this statistic, it is worth bearing in mind that while Stoptober is a campaign helping to get people to stop smoking for a 28-day period in October, those who take part in the campaign and aim to continue their efforts past this initiative are sure to find nicotine replacement products a great help.
  • 1,690 searches in November 2014 — the third highest search volume of the year, behind January 2014 and August 2014.

How is Stoptober helping people to successfully quit?

Ahead of the 2016 Stoptober campaign, a press release by Public Health England was released which included these interesting statistics on quitting smoking:

  • 500,000 of the 2.5 million smokers who attempted to quit in 2015 were successful.
  • The number of cigarettes sold in England and Wales dropped by 20% between 2014 and 2015 according to Nielsen data.
  • 215,000 signed up for the 2015 Stoptober initiative.

So, how does Stoptober encourage people to quit? The reasoning behind the event can help to answer this – the idea is tied in with evidence that smokers are five times more likely to give up smoking for good after they have gone 28 days without a cigarette.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, explains: “Stoptober is the perfect opportunity for people to take action to protect their health and join thousands of others who are also making a quit attempt this month.”

He believes that an ‘everyone in it together’ mindset is beneficial too.