How to get smoking cessation treatments on the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (or NICE for short), the government body that decides which treatments should be available on the NHS, has approved the use of nicotine replacement therapy (sometimes called NRT), bupropion, and varenicline to help people stop smoking. Your GP can prescribe these treatments to help you stop smoking only if:[1]

  • You have a target stop date. This means you have made a commitment to stop smoking on or before a certain date

  • You're also offered counselling and support

  • You're over 12 years of age for NRT, or over 18 for bupropion or varenicline.[2] Bupropion and varenicline aren't licensed for use by young people.

Your first prescription will be enough to last only two weeks after your target stop date. You'll be given a second prescription only if you show you're still trying to stop.

You'll have to wait six months for another prescription if your attempt to stop fails. But if something stressful happened that interfered with your attempt to stop, you may be able to try again sooner.

You won't be given NRT and tablets together. You need to decide with your doctor whether NRT, varenicline, or bupropion is the best treatment for you.

You can also buy NRT products from a pharmacy. But if you don't pay for your NHS prescriptions, you may find it helpful to have them on prescription from your doctor.

Last updated: Mar 31, 2014