NHS stop smoking advisers help you quit

NHS stop smoking advisers are free, friendly and flexible and can massively boost your chances of quitting for good.

Find your local NHS Stop Smoking Service




Northern Ireland

Did you know that wherever you live in the UK, you have easy access to a free service that’s proven to help you stop smoking?

The NHS Stop Smoking Service is a national network of advisers who are trained to help you quit. They will give you accurate information and advice on how to quit, and give you professional support during the first few weeks after you have stopped smoking. 

They also make it easy and affordable for you to get stop smoking treatments, such as Champix (varenicline) or Zyban (bupropion) if it’s suitable for you, or nicotine replacement therapy such as patches and gum.

One-on-one versus group stop smoking sessions

You will normally be offered a one-to-one appointment with an adviser, but many areas also offer group and drop-in services as well. Depending on where you live, the venue could be a local GP surgery, pharmacy, high street shop or even a mobile bus clinic.

Jennifer Percival, who trains NHS stop smoking advisers, says that a combination of support and treatment is proven to give you the best chance of stopping smoking.

“The majority of people who see an adviser will get through the first month after quitting without smoking a cigarette. And overall, you’re up to four times more likely to stop smoking for good if you receive help from an NHS Stop Smoking Service,” she says.

How to contact a stop smoking adviser

Your GP can refer you, or you can phone your local NHS Stop Smoking Service to make an appointment with an adviser:

In England

In Scotland

In Wales

What happens at the first stop smoking session?

At your first meeting with an adviser, you’ll talk about why you smoke and why you want to quit, as well as any past attempts to quit that you've made. You'll also be able to decide on a quit date.

You’ll be offered a breath test which shows the level of carbon monoxide (a poisonous gas in cigarette smoke) in your body. 

“You don’t need to be sure you want to quit or have a quit plan in mind before this meeting,” says Jennifer. “You can use the time to talk your situation through with the adviser without making a commitment. If you do decide to quit, the adviser can help you form an action plan and set a quit date, usually in a week or so.”

Stop smoking aids

At your first session, you’ll also discuss NHS-endorsed treatments available to help you stop smoking.

These are nicotine replacement therapy – including patches, gum, lozenges, microtabs, inhalators and mouth and nasal sprays – and the stop smoking tablets Champix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion).

“No one is forced to use treatment,” says Jennifer, “but we will encourage it because the results are better. All the treatments we recommend can double your chances of quitting.

“We can help you decide which type of treatment is right for you and how to use it. In some cases, we can directly supply you with the treatment before you leave, or we can arrange for you to receive a prescription or a voucher for it. In the case of nicotine replacement therapy, it often works out at least a third cheaper than buying it from a pharmacy.”

She points out that NHS advisers only provide evidence-based treatments. “We won’t suggest or recommend hypnosis or acupuncture as there’s not enough evidence they help you stop smoking.”

Read more about stop smoking treatments.

Preventing relapse

As a general rule, you will have weekly face-to-face or phone contact with your adviser for the first four weeks after you quit smoking, then less frequently for a further eight weeks.

At each meeting, you’ll receive a supply of treatment or a prescription for it, and have your carbon monoxide level measured. You’ll have an emergency number for out-of-hours times to help you cope with cravings and want help to avoid lighting up.

“Going on the 12-week programme requires you to commit to not having a single puff of a cigarette,” says Jennifer. “Measuring carbon monoxide levels is not about checking up on you. It’s more to motivate you to stay smokefree by showing how you body is already recovering."

NHS stop smoking advisers are also very experienced in helping you identify difficult situations when there may be a strong temptation to relapse and start smoking. And they can help you come up with ways to cope with or avoid these situations.

“If you do relapse, we won’t judge or nag you or take it personally. We’re a friendly face that understands how difficult it is to quit, and we’ll help you get back on track to becoming a non-smoker," says Jennifer.

Find out how to cope with cravings.

Here's advice on what to do if you relapse after stopping smoking.

Common stop smoking questions

Read the answers to common questions about stopping smoking, including: 

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2014

Next review due: 16/01/2016


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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

jodiemodes said on 12 July 2015

I've used this service before in the past and I find it very helpful, however there's an issue with the service that I think has a major impact over whether people use this service or not.

In many pharmacies and GP surgeries, the quit smoking service is only available during work hours, you have to pick your pharmacy very carefully so that it you can get there during a lunch break if you work full time during the week. Many pharmacies I have visited don't offer this service on the weekends, which, for me, would be much more helpful so that I can actually use the service.

Before knowing this I picked a pharmacy near to home and realised I couldn't get back from work in time before the service stopped running to pick up my prescription of stop smoking aids. I tried to then move to a pharmacy closer to work, but unfortunately, because people will often abuse the system, you have to wait 6 months until you can carry on the service at a different pharmacy. So, in my frustration, I ended up picking up the cigarettes again.

Now I'm giving up again, but this time instead of trying to navigate around the system and my work hours, I'm just going to use the money I spent on cigarettes to buy my own quit smoking aids and use the internet for support and encouragement.

Best of luck everyone with your journey.

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patmarchand said on 13 May 2015

Stop smoking sessions
I have found the sessions very patronising, and backwards, I managed to stop smoking using the tablets but to stop the craving I also used the e-cigarettes I had to stop telling the true to the NHS stop smoking person because they were threatening me to stop my tablets prescription if I was using e-cigarettes, but they proposed to me Nhs nicotine special cig. what is the difference? none except for the e-cig I can smoke with a nice flavour such as coffee and chocolate.
More people would stop smoking if the Nhs was less patronising.

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