The success of Stoptober

Stoptober is the annual 28-day campaign that is ran by Public Health England during the month of October. It has been designed to encourage smokers to kick the habit for the month and hopefully continue in quitting for good. This year is the sixth edition of the initiative.

Together with Nicotinell, suppliers of stop smoking products and advocates of quitting the habit, we have examined the following research to assess the success of the campaign.

The campaign and deciding to quit

To examine the popularity of the campaign, search volume and Google Trends have been looked at to collect data surrounding relevant keywords.

The data showed that spikes were recorded in people searching for the keyword ‘Stoptober’ around the time of the campaign in 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.

When looking at Google Trends, it was found that it 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.

Of course, it is expected that Stoptober would achieve spikes in search volume around the time of the initiative, but what effect does the event have on related keywords?

Search results of keyword ‘stop smoking’

Between August 2013 and July 2017, average search volume for the keyword ‘stop smoking’ was 14,800 searches. The following spikes were found:

  • 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 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 results of keyword ‘nicotine gum’

This keyword was searched for 1,000 times in one average month between the period of 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 results of keyword ‘Nicotinell’

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

  • 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 the quit

In a press release by Public Health England many statistics were revealed about making the UK a smoke-free nation.

In smokers who attempted to quit in 2015, a success rate of 20% was discovered. 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.

What is it that makes 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.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, believes that an ‘everyone in it together’ mindset is what motivates people 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.”



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