SMOKERS in the region are being encouraged to sign up to ‘Stoptober’ next month and go 28 days smoke free.

The initiative by Public Health England, which begins on October 1, is being backed by North-East based campaign group Fresh which has pointed to research showing that people are more likely to quit if they stop with a partner or friend.

Lisa Surtees, acting director of Fresh, said: “Making a pact to quit with your partner or a friend is a great way to really boost your chances of kicking tobacco once and for all. That support can make all the difference and keep you going.”

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Councillor Lucy Hovvels, portfolio holder for adult and health services at Durham County Council, added: “We know that children are most at risk of becoming smokers if they grow up in communities where smoking is the norm.

“Stoptober gives smokers an ideal opportunity to prepare and take part in a smoke-free plan that will give them a great foundation for quitting for good.

“We hope smokers in County Durham will take part in this year’s initiative and join the thousands of others who have successfully quit.

"Free, personalised advice and support is also available by contacting the County Durham NHS Stop Smoking Service.”

A number of celebrities are supporting this year’s campaign including the likes of comedians Rhod Gilbert and Al Murray.

Anyone signing up to Stoptober can choose to receive daily emails and text messages providing tips and advice, while a mobile phone app is also available.

To sign up search Stoptober online or visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober