“I have a really strong memory of my mum reading to me when I was a young boy, before I went to school, and I remember the smell on my mum’s jumper and I didn’t like it. That memory has really stood out for me because it should’ve been a really warm memory that I look back on, but it wasn’t.”

Former EastEnders actor and Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp has strong memories of his childhood in Islington, and says he cannot bear the thought of his children smoking.

He is vehemently anti-smoking, and says he is profoundly glad his wife, Shirlie, and grown-up children Harley and Capital FM DJ Roman, have never been smokers, declaring.

“I said to Roman and Harley it would be the one thing that would hurt me the most if I saw them smoke. I’m very good at emotional blackmail!" he says.

“I was talking to Shirlie the other night, and we both said if we’d met each other and either one of us smoked, we wouldn’t have carried on the relationship. It would’ve been the deal breaker for me, and Shirlie says exactly the same.”

Kemp is supporting the Stoptober campaign urging smokers to quit for at least the month of October, as research shows if you can stop smoking for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to quit for good.

“I’ve never smoked – I don’t know how, because I grew up in that rock ‘n’ roll world,” he says. “I think it’s because I watched my mum and dad smoking all the time, and how worried I was for them and their health.

“I know it’s difficult to quit – I watched my mum and dad try and quit for years and they found it so difficult, an addiction that’s hard to break. But that’s what Stoptober’s about, it’s telling people you’re not on your own, there are so many people that want to stop smoking, and if people get together and do it, you can sometimes make it easier.”

Islington Gazette: Shirlie and Martin KempShirlie and Martin Kemp (Image: PA Features Archive/Press Association Images)

Kemp, 60, who appears in a new Stoptober film with celebrities including singer Sinitta, Nick Hewer of The Apprentice, and former Strictly Come Dancing professional James Jordan, says his mum and dad, Frank and Eileen, who both died in 2009, were heavy smokers.

But he says: “You’ve got to remember, my mum and dad came from a generation when doctors were telling them it was good for them to smoke, which was the craziest thing in the world.

“They smoked all their lives, from being young teenagers, and I watched their health go downhill very early on. I remember it all started to go wrong for them in the '80s, and it was all smoking-related. But my mum and dad never had the help they needed.”

Kemp was brought up with his brother Gary, who was also in Spandau Ballet, in Islington, attending Rotherfield Primary School and Central Foundation Boys' School.

“Like everybody else who smokes, my mum and dad were always saying to me ‘I’m giving up in January’, and I remember that being said every year for years," he says. "They’d get through a couple of days and they couldn’t do it.

“We lived in different times then – we knew less about it. I don’t blame my mum and dad, I understand how hard it was for them. If they’d had the right sort of help around them, like Stoptober offers, then I think they would have quit, and their health would’ve reaped the benefits of that.”

Islington Gazette: Actor and musician Martin KempActor and musician Martin Kemp (Image: PA Features Archive/Press Association Images)

Stoptober features a range of free quitting tools including the NHS Quit Smoking app (nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking), Facebook communities (facebook.com/stoptober), daily emails and texts, and an online Personal Quit Plan (nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/personal-quit-plan), as well as advice on stop smoking aids, vaping to quit smoking, and free expert support from local Stop Smoking Services.

“In this day and age, putting your health to one side, there’s how much it costs as well,” says Kemp. “You can save a fortune.”

He adds: “We have far more information nowadays, so there aren’t the same excuses any more. With Stoptober you know you can get the help, that there are people around who can give you information and encouragement, which is what everybody needs when you’re breaking any kind of addiction.

“The only reason I’m doing this is because it’s something that really eats away at me – when I see young people smoke, it’s something that really hurts me, so the more people we can get stopping with Stoptober, the better.”