This month, Kent County Council has announced a range of new initiatives aimed at combatting smoking and aiding quitting, including a new £150 fine for dropping cigarettes in public places by Swale Council.
'Stoptober' is an NHS-Backed annual scheme employed by several organisations across the UK aimed at facilitating the quitting of smoking.
Following previous years of successes, Kent County Council is once again backing the scheme with aims to increase its funding from last year.
The schemes include awareness events and an online advertisement campaign designed to highlight a range of specialist NHS teams to help quit, including the widely successful Smoke Free service that boasts a 65% success rate at helping smokers quit.
Stoptober campaign websites are also offering a free 'personal quit plan' so smokers can create their own arrangements to quit more easily.
Among one of the more extreme examples of Stoptober initiatives, Swale Council has introduced promises to refund the £150 fine for littering cigarettes in a public place if they successfully complete a quit smoking course.
Swale Council has estimated that it spends £900,000 a year on cleaning streets and public places, with a quarter of the rubbish picked up being smoking related. It is believed that the initiative will lower the number of cigarettes littered in Swale and encourage current smokers to consider quitting.
The free six-week course sees prospective quitters placed in a group or in a one-to-one training with an advisor to create a personalised quit plan that gradually lowers their cigarette use until they can quit entirely, or switch to healthier nicotine substitutes that will be provided on a prescription basis throughout their time on the course.
The program will then see those who complete the course checked in 6 to 12 months after finishing, before their fine will be refunded.
It is estimated that 17% of residents of Kent are smokers, a figure that has steadily been decreasing over the last decade in line with national statistics on smoking.
Since the 2007 Smoking legislation that saw the banning of smoking in enclosed public spaces, the number of smokers in Britain has dropped by 1.9 million—nearly 20%.
Despite heavy government pushes to lower the smoking population and a steady decline, smoking-related illness remains one of the biggest killers in the UK and 1 in 4 hospital beds are still occupied by a smoker, which is around 12,444 hospital admissions in Kent alone.
Local numbers also show a large amount of discrepancies between different geographical areas of Kent in their smoking population percentages.
Data from 2015 shows that smoking populations in certain areas can be as high as 29.7% of the adult population in towns such as Dover, and there is also a higher percentage of smokers among poorer populations.
A report on the effects of the 2015 Stoptober initiative by Kent County Council also showed that the scheme had difficulties picking up registrations for Quit-Smoking courses from low income groups and certain high-smoker-percentage populations.