By Scott Allan
Health officials are encouraging smokers to sign up for this year's 'Stoptober Challenge' in a bid to improve their long-term health prospects and save money.
More than 160,000 people signed up for last year's Public Health England campaign, which starts on 1 October and challenges smokers to kick the habit for a month.
Smokers urged to improve health & wealth in Stoptober
The campaign claims that smokers could gain an extra seven days of life for every 28 cigarette-free days they experience.
Would-be participants are also being urged to sign up from a financial point of view.
The 160,000 people who signed up in 2012 and managed to avoid smoking for the whole month saved, on average, £150 on the cost of cigarettes.
Smokers who are able to completely abstain from tobacco for a period of 28 days are also five times more likely to stop for good than those who give up for a lesser amount of time.
Eight million smokers in UK
About eight million people in the UK are smokers and figures have shown that half of long-term smokers die early from a disease related to the habit - making it the biggest killer in the UK.
People signing up for Stoptober receive a free stop-smoking pack, a 28-day mobile phone app and text support with daily updates and quitting advice.
England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: "One in two long-term smokers die as a result of smoking.
"This is the single biggest cause of premature death, taking more than 100,000 lives in the UK and costing the NHS up to £2.7 billion each year.
Smoking biggest cause of premature death
"Life is precious and Stoptober is all about supporting and encouraging each other to quit - potentially adding years to your life.
"Taking part in the challenge is a first step to a longer and healthier life, so have a go by stopping with Stoptober."
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: "While smoking prevalence across the country as a whole is falling steadily, it remains high in some parts.
"We want every smoker to consider making a quit attempt this October and join the thousands of people who are feeling the benefits from stopping smoking last year."