Brief Interventions for Smoking Cessation


Brief Interventions for Smoking Cessation Training.

The HSE continues to deliver evidenced based brief intervention in smoking cessation training courses, targeting front line health professionals as per the HSE National Service Plan and Tobacco Control Programme Action Plan. Click here to apply for a course near you.

Brief Interventions are a range of effective behaviour change interventions that are client-centred, short in duration and provided in a variety of settings by healthcare professionals. They use an empathic approach, emphasising self efficacy, personal responsibility for change and information giving including details of resources available to support change.

For smoking cessation, brief interventions involve opportunistic advice, discussion, negotiation and encouragement and typically take between 3 and 10 minutes. Interventions may involve referral to a more intensive treatment. These interventions should be recorded and followed up as appropriate. They are commonly used in many areas of health care by a range of acute, primary and community care professionals.

The approach that is used by the healthcare professional will depend on a number of factors, including the individual's willingness to quit, how acceptable they find the intervention on offer and the previous ways they have tried to quit. It may include one or more of the following:

  • simple opportunistic advice to stop
  • an assessment of the patient's commitment to quit
  • an offer of pharmacotherapy and/or behavioural support
  • provision of self-help material and referral to more intensive support

All healthcare professionals are encouraged to complete this training and incorporate this skill set in to their core day to day work. Delivering of BI training has been recognised as one of the key actions in Healthy Ireland and in the Health Service National Implementation plan and attendance at this training has been a National Service Plan key performance indicator for a number of years.

The course is one day in duration (sometimes it is organised over two half days) is free of charge and is recognised for Category 1 Approval  - 6 CEUs for registered Nurses and Midwives by and the NMBI and 5.5 External CPD credits for registered doctors / consultants by the ICGP.

Framework for Brief Interventions for Smoking Cessation

The 5 As

The five components of the Framework are:

  • Ask: systematically identify all smokers at every visit. Record smoking status, no. of cigarettes smoked per day/week and year started smoking.
  • Advise: urge all smokers to quit. Advice should be clear and personalised.
  • Assess: determine willingness and confidence to make a quit attempt.
  • Assist: aid the smoker in quitting. Provide behavioural support. Recommend/prescribe pharmacological aids. If not ready to quit promote motivation for future attempt.
  • Arrange: follow-up appointment within 1 week or if appropriate refer to specialist cessation service for intensive support. Document the intervention.

REMEMBER Brief advice on the dangers of smoking and the benefits of stopping smoking should be given at every opportunity. Just 3 minutes of your time could help to improve the health and life expectancy of smokers.

If you are a healthcare professional and would like to part-take in our Brief Intervention Tobacco Training please register on attached link here.

Our training video below is aimed at healthcare workers who provide smoking cessation support to service users using evidence based techniques.

Another video resource available is “The Effective Physician: Motivational Interviewing Demonstration” which was produced by the University of Florida. is available here

National Intensive Tobacco Cessation Online Training

The link to the Irish online intensive tobacco cessation training course is

The training can also be accessed via the ‘Ireland’ button on our training homepage:

A guide to the training itself and the registration process is in a separate document.

The pass code is IRL2014 which needs to be entered in the relevant field on the registration page.

There is approximately six to eight hours of study materials which can be accessed in as many sittings as required.

You can choose your own path through the course and review materials as needed depending on your prior knowledge and experience. There are video clips explaining and demonstrating important components of behavioural support as well as additional information and links to other resources throughout. These are hosted on a website called ‘vimeo’ which may be blocked by your respective IT departments if you are accessing same from within the HSE. The video clips commence in the second half of the training (from page 41 onwards). If you are accessing the training from a HSE PC or laptop you may need to complete an IT ‘Content filter exemption request form’.

You will need to tick the Bandwidth PG, internet Radio and TV and streaming media boxes on page 3 of this HSE internet access form and enter the relevant email address or on the bottom section of the form.

We wish you all the very best with your studies.

Further details on NCSCT Training and Assessment Programme for Ireland can be found here.


The trainer resource is designed to support trainers in the delivery of the National Brief Intervention Training Programme and promote standardisation across all centres. The resource pack has three purposes - firstly to present material relevant to the Brief Intervention Training Programme and guidance on how it should be delivered; secondly to provide an evidence base to support this material; and thirdly to act as a resource for Trainers to guide further reading that will deepen their knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and related issues.

Trainer Resource Pack


30 Second Stop Smoking Advice

The Tobacco Control Programme and the National Cancer Control Programme have also developed a 30 Second QUIT Smoking Guide for Health Professionals. The guide is a simple A4 card, which is to be used by hospital and health care teams when they are caring for someone who is a smoker. The aim is to ensure that all patients are asked if they smoke, and if they do, they are offered support to quit and prescribed medication to help them. The 30 Second QUIT Guide has been distributed to hospitals and bulk suppplies are available to order by registering as a health professional on