Shoppers in Newcastle were confronted by a giant inflatable red wheel bearing the word ‘stop’ as part of the national Stoptober quitting campaign.
Research suggests that smokers who stop for 28 days are five times more likely to kick the habit for good.
While some were keen to take part, others felt that timed anti-smoking drives made little difference and that quitting should be a personal decision.
One smoker on Northumberland Street said: “It is irritating when people are on your back reminding you to quit smoking.
"It doesn’t matter what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard, the things that frighten you, when you’re a smoker it doesn’t really seem to get through.”
Another smoker added: “I think campaigns like this one are a good idea but quitting is a self-motivation thing.
“The campaigns are a good starting point but I think you’ve got to want to do it yourself to actually go through with it.”
Christine Dryden, Manager of Newcastle and North Tyneside NHS Stop Smoking Service, said: "The Autumn is a great time to quit with the darker nights drawing in.
“People who quit now can save hundreds of pounds which can pay for Christmas. People don't always find quitting that easy, even though some smokers do manage it first time.
“But people can make the process easier by using a friendly and free NHS Stop Smoking Service, which boosts your chances of stopping for good. Even if you’ve tried before the key is to give it another go. You don’t always succeed on your first attempt.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “Tens of thousands of people in the North East have stopped smoking in the last few years, which shows that quitting can be done.
“Stoptober is a great time for everyone to give it a try. Stopping for a month is a great achievement and gives you a much better chance of staying quit.”
Pro-smoking organisation Forest was unavailable for comment.
For help to stop smoking click here.
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