Twelve months ago I stopped smoking after more than 20 years. Like thousands of others up and down the country, I took part in Stoptober in a bid to kick the habit of a lifetime. One year later, I’m pleased to say that I’m still on the wagon and experiencing the benefits of a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Evidence suggests that if you stop smoking for 28 days you’re five times more likely to quit for good. If you’ve always wanted to stop but not had the willpower, why not give it a try this month and join the one million people who have already used Stoptober to help them quit?

As an ex-smoker there’s no easy way to say it, but smoking is deadly.

One in two long-term smokers die from a smoking-related disease, while the habit causes around 90 per cent of lung cancers and is linked to a range of other serious conditions. The sad fact is that long-term smoking can wipe more than ten years off your life expectancy.

But it’s never too late to change your ways. On average, men who stop smoking by the age of 30 add ten years to their life, while those who break the habit before 60 add three years. Moreover, those who give up greatly improve their chances of remaining disease-free and mobile in later life.

No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting can help improve your health straight away. After just 48 hours your lungs will start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris; after as little as three months your lung function increases by 10 per cent and after a year your risk of heart disease has halved.

When I stopped, I found that I could breath more easily, had more energy and felt less stressed. What is more, if you’re looking to start a family, quitting can also improve fertility for both men and women.

By making the decision to stop, you’ll not only be protecting your own health, but that of your friends and family too. Breathing in second-hand fumes exposes your loved ones to the same risks as a smoker. In children, it can cause pneumonia, ear infections and asthma, while tripling the risk of lung cancer in later life.

For many people, this can be the catalyst they need to make a change for the better. After all, there is nothing more important than family. But stopping smoking can not only help improve your health, it can also provide an immediate boost to your bank balance.

If you smoke a packet a day, you could save as much as £250 every month, meaning you’ll have more cash in your pocket to spend on the important things in life. Just think what you could do with an extra £3000 every year!

The great thing about Stoptober is that you’ll more than likely know someone else who is trying to quit, so you can support each other. There are also a range of resources available to help you on your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

There’s an app where you can track your progress and work out how much you’ve saved, and you can chat to advisors via Facebook or get daily tips sent to your email address.

You can also access face to face support through Livewell, the Council’s healthy lifestyle service. They can help you find your Will Power to stop smoking for good this #Stoptober2017.  With free support and treatments, Livewell has already helped thousands of people in Derby to go smoke free.  You’re five times more likely to quit using a specialist service like Livewell than going it alone. You can book your first appointment today. Simply go to livewellderby.co.uk/stopsmoking

One year on from my decision to stop smoking I’m happier, healthier and have a bit more cash in my pocket. Regardless of your own circumstances, there’s no time like the present to try and quit.

I will not pretend it was easy, nor would I claim that I haven’t been tempted to have a cigarette in the time since, but I can honestly say that it was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. This October, I’d urge any smokers who’d like to stop to take up the challenge.

Councillor Martin Repton, Cabinet Member for Integrated Health and Care