A Harrogate recruitment consultant has put down her lighter for the last time and joined forces with reality TV star Sinitta to encourage the nation to get behind the Stoptober quit-smoking campaign.

Georgina Stockdale, 35, started smoking when she was 16 but after 15 years decided to stop in January and has seen her life transformed as a result.

Stoptober is back to launch its 10th mass quit attempt this October, calling on smokers in England to join the 2.3 million others who have made a quit attempt with the campaign since it launched a decade ago in 2012.

Over 6 million adults in England still smoke, and it remains the leading cause of premature death, with almost 75,000 preventable deaths a year.

“I realised that the fear of me stopping smoking was more in my mind rather than how physically difficult it would be,” said Georgina. “That comes with addiction and the routine of it. Cigarettes controlled my life because any plans I made; it was around the consideration of when I could have a cigarette. 

“I saw the Stoptober campaign and I thought that if other people can do it, maybe it's something I can do too. The global pandemic hit home for me too - no one's invincible and no one knows what's coming next. 

“I've had so many benefits - mentally, emotionally, physically, financially! I feel so free because I don't live my life consumed by cigarettes and smoking.

“I feel really in control of my life. The money that you're saving on smoking is a great amount. I don't feel like I'm judged anymore by people around me - it's changed my social life.

“Physically, I do weight training, I've done one of the Yorkshire three peaks - that's something I really didn't think I'd ever do!

“Especially through lockdown, I went on 10k hikes every day and that's something I never thought I'd be able to do. It's changed my life. I don't have that smokers cough anymore, my skin's changed, I feel more energetic - the benefits outweigh the addiction of smoking.”

New research has shown that more than half of smokers want to quit, and three-quarters (75%) would never have started smoking if they could go back in time.

Of those who want to quit, more than half (55%) would like to do so to improve their physical health or to save money (52%).

After smoking for nearly 40 years; reality TV star Sinitta is also encouraging smokers to give Stoptober a go this year.

Sinitta, 57, began smoking when she was 16 years old – and despite reducing her smoking behaviour to only socially from the age of 22 – she quit fully at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

And the American-born singer, who has vowed to never return to her previous addiction, revealed her decision to start smoking as a teenager was amongst the worst of her life.

“I started smoking because you'd see it in all the cool movies, with James Dean and Joan Crawford,” said Sinitta. “I did it to look older and you used to be able to smoke in nightclubs and restaurants in the 80s and I wanted to be part of that scene. 

“I used to buy two packets a day of the menthol cigarettes with white tips. I used to share them, so I probably was smoking 20 a day.

“I was unwell early in the lockdown. We didn't know a lot about it then but we knew some people were dying.

“It seemed insane to even think about smoking. As I was only smoking socially and we were all in isolation, I wasn't around smoking as well.

“The combination of being ill and not wanting to do anything that would make my health and my lungs any worse, and not being around other smokers, I was able to make that decision and stick with it. Now, I will never go back. I can't even stand other people smoking near me!”

Stop smoking expert Louise Ross developed quit-smoking tips to support those who plan to quit with Stoptober this year:

1. List your reasons to quit
2. Tell people you're quitting
3. Remember what has worked
4. Use stop smoking aids
5. Have a plan
6. Change your routine
7. Keep busy
8. Exercise away the urge
9. Learn from others who have quit
10. Remember, not a single puff

Ross said: “There is a range of support available including stop smoking aids, digital tools and expert help from local stop smoking services to help your quit-smoking journey. Not to mention ways that you can prepare yourself to quit such as being prepared for triggers, making changes to your routine in order to resist cravings and getting the support from your friends and family to keep quit. . Joining the thousands of others who are quitting with Stoptober will help keep you motivated to get through the Stoptober’s 28 days and beyond and will boost your chances of quitting for good.”

Georgina and Sinitta are supporting the Stoptober campaign, encouraging smokers to quit this October, as if you quit for 28 days, you are 5 times more likely to quit for good. Search ‘Stoptober’ for a full range of quitting support options.