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HSE Quit smoking - Take back control this January with free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) from the HSE

 HSE Press Release
Tuesday 2 January 2023

 Take back control this January with free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) from the HSE


  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) use increased 90% in 2023
  • NRT is recommended as a first-line treatment to stop smoking
  • Get a free personalised plan to help you quit today at


January is a popular time for people to try to stop smoking. Many try to quit alone without supports and therapies that can give the best chance of quitting, such as stop smoking medications. The HSE is here to help you quit by providing free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) along with other tried and tested supports.


Dr Paul Kavanagh, HSE Public Health Medicine Consultant Lead with the Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, explains how NRT is safe and effective: “NRT are tightly regulated medicinal products which are overseen by the Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA) in Ireland.  We know NRT is very safe and that it works.  It is encouraging to see that more people who smoke are using NRT to help them quit.  We have been working hard to improve access and availability of this life-saving medicine. People who smoke and who want to stop, and healthcare professionals who are supporting them, can have full trust and confidence in the safety and effectiveness of NRT.


“Some people who smoke will be wondering about using an e-cigarette or vapes to help them stop. We do not have full trust and confidence in the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking and recommend NRT as way to help them through their quit attempt.”


Pat O’Callaghan who smoked for more than 40 years speaks about how the HSE Quit service helped him finally quit for good: “I tried everything to quit down through the years, the Alan Carr book and seminar twice, hypnosis twice, patches, cold turkey, you name it and I’ve tried it.  What I found most helpful with the Quit service was the one-to-one chats I had with Miriam, my HSE Stop Smoking Advisor. This gave me an accountability and purpose that the other programmes just didn’t really have.


“I used the NRT inhaler which helped me massively as I really didn’t want to go for vapes as a crutch. I reduced down the number of cartridges in the inhaler over a number of weeks and now I sometimes use an inhaler even without any nicotine, just out of habit.


“The money I’ve saved over the past three months is huge, not only on cigarettes but also I don’t buy a coffee anymore as without the cigarettes I don’t find I need it, so before you count the cost of cigarettes I’ve saved €60 a month. Since quitting I’ve started motivating others around me, I had made a €200 bet with my brother-in-law to quit smoking, he has recently relapsed but we’ve gone double or nothing and I can hand on heart say that I hope I lose €400 in the new year.” 


Martina Blake, National Lead, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, says: “You are 5 times more likely to quit for good if you stop smoking for 28 days, and the hardest piece of this process is making the decision to quit in the first place. Our staff can help you assess your daily routine and smoking pattern. They will help to build your confidence and motivation, assess your nicotine dependence through a simple breath test and then arrange free medication for you. They will contact you regularly over a 12-month period to keep you on track for long term success. If you slip up along the way, there is no judgment. We are here to help you achieve your quitting goal.


“Over the last few years we’ve seen a growing prevalence of “dual use” with smokers using e-cigarette or vapes for short periods or in spaces where it is not possible to light up a cigarette. Our team are available to support with this new issue of “dual use” and if you wish to quit both smoking and vaping, you can contact our services.”


Quit supports available

HSE Quit services are free and available all year round. The Quit service provides personalised, evidence-based plans, tailored to your needs, using any combination of the support options:


Top tips for quitting smoking successfully

  1. Don’t feel you need to go it alone. HSE Quit is there for you to help you take this step with simple, practical and effective help, maximising your chance of staying quit for good. Staff will provide non-judgemental support and encouragement.
  2. Focus on the goal to stay smoke-free for one day at a time until you get to 28 days. Once people get to that goal, they are up to 5 times more likely to stay quit for good.
  3. Use stop-smoking medicine, like NRT. This is a safe, effective and a clinically sound way of getting through the first 28 days and dealing with cravings.


Healthy Ireland Survey Results 2023


  • 18% of the population are current smokers, with 14% daily smokers and 4% occasional smokers. These figures are the same as those reported in 2021-2022.
  • Smoking is higher amongst men (21%) than women (15%) and higher amongst those who are unemployed or have not completed the Leaving Certificate.
  • 33% of the population are ex-smokers. 49% of those who have smoked in the past year have attempted to quit smoking, with 23% of this group successfully quitting smoking. 58% used willpower alone, 25% used e-cigarettes, and 19% used nicotine replacement therapy.
Last updated on: 02 / 01 / 2024