The New Year could spark as many as 1\.2 million people in England trying to quit smoking, figures from Cancer Research UK suggest.
The charity’s research has shown that January is the most popular month to stop, with an average of one in eight smokers trying.
The charity also reported that those who tried in January tended to be more successful than those trying in other months.
Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, calculated that 13% of smokers tried to stop in January 2007 – the equivalent of every adult in Newcastle, Manchester, Coventry and Bristol.
By monitoring trends in quit rates, he also found that those who chose to quit as their New Year’s resolution did better than those who quit at other times of the year. He said: ‘We have found that almost half of all smokers actually try to quit at least once over the course of the year and one in eight try to quit in January.
‘But I was particularly interested to find that, contrary to popular scepticism of New Year’s Resolutions, smokers who quit in January also tended to be more successful at staying off cigarettes.’
The NHS is launching a campaign with a series of ‘getting off cigarettes’ adverts to raise awareness of the free support methods available to help smokers stop.
Professor West said, ‘It’s not like alcoholics anonymous; it’s just practical advice. With willpower alone, the chances of success are very small.
‘The first thing is to get the right medication, whether that’s nicotine replacement, zyban or champix, and the really important thing is having it explained to you exactly how to use it and to make sure you use enough of it.’