Expert Opinion

What to do as Stoptober ends

The first Stoptober campaign launched in 2012 with over a quarter of a million people signing up to take back control of their lives and quit smoking for good. The idea behind the campaign was that by giving up smoking for 28 days starting on the first of October, most smokers are then 5 times as likely to give up smoking for good.

With giving up smoking widely recognised as a difficult task Stoptober provides valuable support from family, peers and fellow Stoptober participants to help each individual crack their cravings and reap the benefits of being 28 days smoke-free. But now as we come to the end of Stoptober it’s important that Stoptober participants keep their head in the game, although Stoptober may seem as though it was a temporary abstinence campaign it should be used as a springboard to quitting for good so now is the time to kick it up a gear in order to avoid a relapse back into old habits now the challenge is over. So here are some things you can do if you feel a little lost after 28 days of support.

  1. Create a new SMART goal
    One of the common criticisms of temporary abstinence campaigns such as Stoptober is that they are simply a way of “fooling yourself”, by distracting participants from their goal of quitting for good and helped them perceive that temporary abstinence was achievable. It can be all too easy are 28 days of no drinking, no eating chocolate or no smoking to feel a complete drop-in will power and a sense that you have achieved your goal and can now reward yourself. To avoid this breaking point it’s important to get right back on it by setting yourself a new SMART goal. 28 days is an achievable amount of time and so why not try setting a new 28-day goal to take you up to the end of November. Setting smaller more achievable goals can help participants to maintain motivation, and having done a 28-day stint once, they are more likely to feel they can do it again. Whatever your SMART goal is just remember to make sure it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
  2. Visualise your new goal
    Stoptober was a very visual campaign and there were a lot of online resources to help participants visualise their journey. Visualisation can work wonders in helping people to attain their goals, so don’t let your visualisation end with the campaign. Print yourself out a new schedule for the duration of your new smart goal and tick down each day you complete. Print it out and keep it somewhere you will see it to remind yourself of how far you have come. If you find that thinking about the time since your last cigarette is triggering to you then try a different tactic by counting down until the end of the challenge, though ideally, by that time, you will not rewarding yourself with a cigarette but by setting a new smart goal.
  3. Stay supported
    One of the hardest things about coming out of Stoptober is the lack of support. Suddenly participants go from having sponsorship, a reason to say no to any offers of a cigarette, their family willing them on and friends supporting them to just going back to normality, minus the smoking. This can be hard and so it’s important to explain to those around you that you’re starting a new challenge and ask them to support you as they have done previously through this new time frame. It can also be beneficial to reach out to other smoking support groups such as those on offer through the NHS, or if you have made friends with other Stoptober members through the campaign Facebook page or through a campaign event then perhaps try starting a group Whatsapp chat to keep each other up to date on your progress and to share helpful hints.
  4. Make use of quitting devices
    Going cold turkey works for some people but others may need to wean themselves off of their cravings more slowly with the help of an ecig or a nicotine patch etc. If you’ve been using these aids through Stoptober then you may wish to start trying to cut down on them a little in your next 28 days by reducing the dosage of nicotine you purchase. However, a no-smoking aid is far better than returning to smoking cigarettes and if you feel that it’s too early days to try and come off of them completely then use all the help you can get and set a new SMART goal for yourself later down the line.