There's never been a better time to stop smoking, according to an expert report.

New data published in a University College of London (UCL) report shows quitting success rates at their highest in the South West for at least a decade, up to 19.8 per cent for the first six months of this year, significantly higher than the average for the last 10 years (15.7 per cent).

Success rates among the less well-off have for years remained low, but in a major turnaround the sharp increase in success rates is being seen entirely among this group.

For the first time, any smoker - no matter their background or job, sex, age or where they live - has virtually the same chance of quitting successfully as the next person.

The report coincides with the launch of Stoptober quit smoking challenge, which has inspired over one and a half million quit attempts since 2012. The campaign is based on research that if you stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.

With Stoptober now in its sixth year, the UCL report gives a number of reasons why there’s never been a better time to quit, including: better and more quitting aid options, with e-cigarettes now the most popular; more restrictions on smoking; the introduction of plain tobacco packaging; a stronger anti-smoking culture in England and supportive stop smoking campaigns such as Stoptober.

Last year over half of all those taking part in Stoptober opted to use an e-cigarette as a quitting aid.

This year the campaign will feature e-cigarettes in television adverts and will do more to encourage and support smokers who are keen to try e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

Hayley Mould from Poole decided to quit smoking during Stoptober 2016, and managed to cut her 20 to 30 a day habit of the past 16 years. She has been smoke-free ever since and says it was her daughter, and a health scare after a visit to the GP, which inspired her to stop for good.

“It was hard at first, but the tips that Stoptober provided really helped me. I’d get alerts from the app and email service about how much money I’d saved so far because I hadn’t bought cigarettes and it told me how my health was improving day-by-day," she said.

"Receiving the emails each morning helped me to start my day focused and determined to not smoke. I’d post about my achievements on Facebook and it was amazing how much support I got from the online community."

Russ Moody, tobacco control lead for Public Health England South West added: "E-cigarettes are now the most popular way to quit in the country with half of all those taking part in Stoptober last year using an e-cigarette. The evidence is clear - vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking – a fraction of the risk. So if you’ve struggled with quitting before, an e-cigarette may be the best option for you."

The campaign starts on October 1. Search ‘Stoptober’ online for information and support.