Stop smoking clinical guidelines

The development of national clinical guidelines was part of the Tobacco Free Ireland action plan.

People working in health services in Ireland can help people quit smoking by following the Stop Smoking Clinical Guideline -


  • defines best practices for care of people who smoke
  • recommends that healthcare professionals ask about smoking, advise then to stop and act by arranging support
  • sets out the supports to help people who smoke to quit

Who is it for

This guideline is mainly for all healthcare workers within the HSE. This includes operated and funded health and social care places. It includes primary care, hospitals, and community centres in Ireland.

This guideline is useful for healthcare planners and managers. It is available for healthcare professionals in different areas. It can also be used by members of the public.

Launch webinar of national stop smoking clinical guideline

Health and Wellbeing working with the Department of Health highlighted the key developments as part of this new clinical guideline for quality stop smoking services.

What are clinical guidelines

Clinical guidelines are carefully made recommendations, backed by a thorough examination of evidence. They help doctors and patients decide on the best healthcare for specific situations, covering a wide range of medical issues.

Clinical guideline development group

The HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme created a team called the Clinical Guideline Development Group in April 2017. The group was chaired by Dr Paul Kavanagh, Consultant in Public Health Medicine.

The group includes:

  • clinical experts
  • high-level managers
  • service providers
  • research specialists
  • representatives from those who use the services

The group carefully looked at and assessed existing international guidelines. It also looked at any evidence. They used this information to make recommendations for these clinical guidelines.

The early version of the guidelines was made available to all concerned stakeholders, for their feedback. They were also reviewed by global experts in helping people quit smoking. The guidelines were evaluated and approved by NCEC in June 2021 and then recommended for publication by the Minister for Health.

What healthcare professional can do

To help people to stop smoking healthcare professionals can:

  • ask about smoking status at every consultation
  • advise on the best way to quit which is using medication and our intensive service which provides behavioural support
  • act by recommending or prescribing stop smoking medication and referring to QUIT

Stop smoking advisors

Healthcare professionals can refer to local stop smoking advisors for behavioural support.

Trained stop smoking advisors can assess a client’s nicotine dependence. They can advise on which options suit best as well as working with the client over a 12-month period.

This is to support the behavioural elements of smoking cessation. It involves examining the clients psychological and emotional dependence in detail and working with them to overcome this.

Stop smoking advisor and other services near you

How can healthcare professionals refer to the QUIT service

There are many ways of making a referral to local or national QUIT services:


Referrals can be made using the HealthLink application (and select HSE QUIT Smoking Services).


Any healthcare professional can apply to become a Referrer on QuitManager. QuitManager is the national patient management system for stop smoking services.

Referral source set-up request form (PDF, 129 KB, 1 page)


Referrals can also be made by using the stop smoking referral form (PDF, 226 KB, 2 pages)

You can email the completed form to either:

Supporting people to stop smoking - advice for general practitioners (PDF, 660 KB, 1 page)

Supporting people to stop smoking - advice for pharmacists (PDF, 656 KB, 1 page)

Recommended pharmacological supports

Evidence shows that those who choose to use stop smoking medicine and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in their quit attempt have double the chances of success. This means that if someone uses these aids, they are twice as likely to quit smoking successfully.

A smoker is 5 times more likely to stay quit if they:

  • engage with behavioural support
  • use stop smoking medications or NRT
  • manage to stay quit for 28 days


Using Champix (varenicline HCL) along with a short-acting nicotine replacement product is the best initial treatment option, for those it is suitable for.


If Varenicline isn't suitable or preferred, a combination of NRT products is recommended.

This includes a slow-release option like the patch. This can be used along with a fast-acting product like nicotine gum or an inhalator.

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