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22 years on: the impact and relevance of the UK No Smoking Day
  1. L Owen1,
  2. B Youdan2
  1. 1National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, London, UK
  2. 2No Smoking Day, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Ben Youdan
 No Smoking Day, 59 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DJ, UK; ben{at}


Objectives: To evaluate the impact and relevance of the national awareness day “No Smoking Day” 22 years after it was launched.

Design: Triangulation of data from a variety of sources. Retrospective surveys conducted one week and three months after No Smoking Day, media coverage, website activity, and volume of calls to national smokers’ helplines.

Main outcome measures: Self reports of awareness and smoking behaviour changes one week and three months after No Smoking Day. Volume of media coverage, visits to No Smoking Day website, and volumes of calls to smokers’ helplines.

Results: Follow up at one week indicates awareness of No Smoking Day is lower in 2004 than in 1986 but still high at 70% for all smokers. The decline in participation from 18% of aware smokers in 1994 to 7% in 2001 has been reversed and in 2005 19% quit or reduced their smoking on No Smoking Day. Three months after No Smoking Day awareness was 78% in 2004, lower than in previous studies but still high and equivalent to 9 965 000 smokers when applied to the population estimate of UK smokers. Likewise participation has decreased but at 14% in 2004 is equivalent to an estimated 1 840 000 (1 in 7 of UK smokers) claiming to quit or reduce their consumption on the Day. Among those who participated, 11% were still not smoking more than three months after the Day, equivalent to an estimated 85 000 smokers (0.7% of UK smokers). Media volume has increased even though campaign spend has remained relatively constant and calls to national smokers’ helplines on No Smoking Day are typically four times those received on an average day.

Conclusions: These data suggest that after 22 years No Smoking Day continues to be successful in reaching smokers. With a budget insufficient to pay for advertising, this public awareness campaign supported by local activities appears to be effective in helping smokers to stop.

  • No Smoking Day
  • mass media
  • impact
  • helpline
  • cessation

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  • Competing interest: This research was part funded by the No Smoking Day charity. All data was collated by independent market research agencies, and from independent audits of public services. Lesley Owen is a trustee of the No Smoking Day charity and Ben Youdan is the Chief Executive of No Smoking Day.