Supporting smoking cessation


A guide for health professionals
Group or individual counselling
☰ Table of contents


There is clear evidence that both individual counselling (RR 1.39; 95% CI: 1.24–1.57)145 and group counselling (RR 1.98; 95% CI: 1.60–2.46)146 increase quit rates over approaches where there is minimal support.

Individual counselling typically involves weekly face-to-face meetings between a smoker and a counsellor trained in smoking cessation over a period of at least 4 weeks after the quit date and is normally combined with pharmacotherapy. Group behaviour therapy involves scheduled meetings (typically 4–8) where smokers receive information, advice and encouragement and some form of behavioural intervention.144

Counselling should include practical advice consisting of problem solving and skills training, and social support as part of the treatment. Group techniques, which focus on skills training and provide mutual support, can also be effective for those who find this method appropriate.54

In some states, quitlines keep registers of local support programs led by approved providers.

  1. Richmond RL, Zwar NA. Treatment of tobacco dependence. In: Boyle P, Gray N, Henningfield J, Seffrin J, Zatonski W, editors. Tobacco: science, policy and public health. 2nd edn. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press; 2010.
  2. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Public health guidance 10. Smoking cessation services in primary care, pharmacies, local authorities and workplaces, particularly for manual working groups, pregnant women and hard to reach communities. NICE, February 2008.
  3. Lancaster T, Stead LF. Individual behavioural counselling for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005, Issue 2. Art. no. CD001292.
  4. Stead LF, Lancaster T. Group behaviour therapy programmes for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005, Issue 2. Art. no. CD001007.

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