General practitioners and primary care nurses are a respected source of health information. They are well placed to provide best practice smoking cessation care to patients who smoke.
Research has shown advice from a health professional is a major external trigger in prompting a person who smokes to make a quit attempt, and a brief advice conversation with a patient about their smoking can be fast, simple and effective.
Brief advice: Ask, Advise, Help
with health professionals, we have developed a 3-step brief advice model, Ask,
Advise, Help which is described in the RACGP’s Supporting smoking cessation: a guide for health professionals.
The model focuses on identifying patients who smoke and connecting them to evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment: multi-session behavioural intervention through Quitline and approved pharmacotherapy, if clinically appropriate:
- Ask all patients about smoking status and document this in their medical record.
- Advise all patients who smoke to quit in a clear, non-confrontational and personalised way, and advise of the best way to quit.
- Help by offering all patients who smoke an opt-out referral to behavioural intervention through Quitline (13 7848), and by prescribing (or helping patients to access) approved pharmacotherapy, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
Find links below to our online training for health professionals, and links to resources for you, your practice and your patients.
Smoking Cessation Brief Advice Training for General Practitioners
The ‘Smoking Cessation Brief Advice Training for General Practitioners’ is designed to support smoking cessation care in general practice. It will equip general practitioners and nurse practitioners with the skills, confidence and knowledge to provide smoking cessation brief advice to patients who smoke. This education is a CPD Activity under the RACGP CPD Program (3pt). This event has been accredited in the 2020-2022 ACRRM PD Program for 2 Educational Activity Hours.
Duration: 60 - 90 minutes
- Describe the negative impact smoking has on physical and mental health, and social outcomes.
- Describe the three steps of the smoking cessation brief advice (Ask, Advise, Help) model, including the role of multi-sessional behavioural intervention (e.g., through Quitline), how to refer patients, and the resources available to support patients.
- Describe the different smoking cessation pharmacotherapy options available, how to use them effectively to reduce side effects and withdrawal symptoms, and how to prescribe them appropriately.
- Manage common and clinically significant drug interactions associated with smoking and stopping smoking.
Certificate: Printable certificate
Nicotine vaping products: considerations for GPs
The ‘Nicotine vaping products: considerations for GPs’ Training provides information and evidence-based guidance to GPs on the practicalities of prescribing nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation in the new regulatory environment, including how to maximise benefit and minimise risk. This education is a CPD Activity under the RACGP CPD Program (2pt). This event has been accredited in the 2020-2022 ACRRM PD Program for 1 Educational Activity Hours.
Duration: 60 minutes
- Explain the current legal and regulatory framework for nicotine vaping products in Australia.
- Discuss the currently available evidence for the use of nicotine vaping products in smoking cessation, and the associated risks and benefits.
- Outline the current RACGP recommendations for the clinical use of nicotine vaping products in primary care.
- Describe the key factors to consider when prescribing nicotine vaping products for patients.
Certificate: Printable certificate
Other brief advice training courses
Quit offers brief advice courses for a range of health areas, including the 'Supporting pregnant women to stop smoking’ course, which is endorsed by the Australian College of Midwives, and takes approximately 60 mins.
See Online Training for the full range of settings and courses available.
For information on nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation
Visit quit.org.au/nvp for links to:
- RACGP and PSA guidelines, including practice points on nicotine vaping product prescription and dispensing.
- Information for health professionals from the TGA and NPS MedicineWise.
- Recordings of the webinars providing clinical guidance on prescribing nicotine vaping products.
Referring your patients to Quitline
Quitline is a confidential, evidenced-based telephone counselling service. Highly-trained Quitline counsellors use behaviour change techniques and motivational interviewing over multiple calls to help people plan, make and sustain a quit attempt.
There are three ways to refer your patients to Quitline:
- Refer patients online
- Use the Quitline fax referral sheet
- Send Quitline
referral letters from your general practice software. (If you use Best Practice
or Medical Director, these referral letters should already be on your system.
Instructions to manually upload referral letters onto other software or older
versions of software can be found here).
We have worked with health professionals and consumers to
develop a range of resources to help you help your patients stop smoking. You
can order these through the Quit resource order form.
Resources for you
- A quick reference guide outlining how to support patients to stop smoking.
- A table outlining drug interactions with smoking, detailing the impact of smoking cessation on drug dosages.
- A flyer outlining the importance of shared care in supporting Aboriginal patients to stop smoking.
- Smoking and cardiovascular disease: fact sheet for health professionals.
- Smoking and head and neck cancers: fact sheet for health professionals.
Resources for your practice
- A tent card to display in practices, prompting patients to talk to their GP about smoking.
- Waiting room resources, such as the “Did you know your doctor can help you stop smoking?” poster.
- Sample wording for SMS messages to send to patients.
- Sample article for your website or patient newsletter.
- Template of a follow-up letter to send to patients.
- Sample on-hold phone messaging.
Resources for your patients
- Your Stop Smoking Plan card which can be completed by you and given to patients as a reminder.
- A wallet card with tips for managing cravings on one side and how to get help to stop smoking on the other.
- Videos describing how to use the different formulations of NRT: nicotine patch, gum, mouth spray, lozenge and inhalator.
- Motivational tools – Quit for cash postcard helps people see how much they could save. There is also a youth version.
- Self help material – Quit Because You Can booklet and What I can do to stop smoking wallet card.
Tobacco in Australia: Facts & Issues
Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues is a comprehensive review of the major issues in smoking and health in Australia, compiled by Cancer Council Victoria.
Embedding smoking cessation care
Not only can the AAH model be used by individual health professionals in their everyday interactions with patients, it can also be used to guide change. The goal is to systematically embed smoking cessation care into routine practice. Read more.
Last updated: November 2021
For any queries or further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can you help your patient: resources and training
Nursing and allied health professionals have a vital role in promoting smoking cessation. A brief intervention provided by a health professional can trigger a quit attempt.
How to help your patient quit – 3-step intervention model
Smoking is the leading cause of death and disease in Australia. Health professionals play a powerful role in encouraging and helping patients to stop smoking.