How successful has Stoptober been in encouraging smokers to quit?

If you are not already aware, Stoptober is an annual 28-day campaign ran by Public Health England during the month of October. It is designed to encourage smokers to give up smoking for the 28-day period and eventually quit for good, this year is the sixth edition of the initiative.

Nicotinell, a supplier of stop smoking products, has examined the following research to assess the success of Stoptober.

Stoptober and deciding to quit

To provide insight into the popularity of the campaign, search volume and Google Trends have been used to collect data around relevant keywords.

For example, spikes were recorded in people searching for the keyword ‘Stoptober’ around September and October of each year analysed. The average monthly search volume was 18,100 between August 2013 and July 2017, however spikes as high as 266,570 searches in September 2014 were found.

Data collected from Google Trends follows a similar trend – where 100 refers to maximum popularity, interest in Stoptober has seen a peak at 100 for the week of September 29th to October 5th in 2013. 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.

It is assumed that Stoptober would achieve spikes in search volume around the time of the campaign, but what effect does the event have on related keywords?

Search volume of ‘stop smoking’

In the period covering August 2013 to July 2017, the average volume for the keyword ‘stop smoking’ was 14,800 searches. However, the following spikes were discovered:

  • 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.

Apart from 2016, September and October were among the top three months for the highest search volume for ‘stop smoking’ since 2013. The month of January always achieves higher search volume in this area due to New Year resolutions.

Search volume of ‘nicotine gum’

Keyword ‘nicotine gum’ was searched for 1,000 times in an average month between August 2013 to July 2017. However, the following spikes were discovered:

  • 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.

Search volume of ‘Nicotinell’

On average, ‘Nicotinell’ was searched for 720 times between the period of August 2013 and July 2017. However, the following spikes were found:

  • 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.

Stoptober and achieving quitting

Statistics announced in a press release by Public Health England contained many interesting statistics around making the UK a smoke-free nation.

For example, a success rate of 20% in smokers who made an attempt to quit in 2015 was found. Public Health England was also keen to spotlight Nielsen data which revealed that the number of cigarettes that were sold in England and Wales dropped by 20 per cent between 2014 and 2016.

So, why is the Stoptober campaign effective? The reasoning behind the campaign, which saw more than 215,000 smokers sign up for the 2015 initiative alone, can help to answer this. The idea behind the event 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.

An ‘everyone in it together’ mindset is what Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, believes is the motivation for many Stoptober participants to quit. He 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.”

Sources:

    • Data from Google Keyword Planner (https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/)
    • Data from Google Trends (https://trends.google.co.uk/trends/)
    • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/quitting-smoking-sweeps-the-nation-as-stoptober-returns
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/news/stoptober-2015-concludes