Individuals with mental illness are particularly disadvantaged by their use of tobacco, spending as much as 40% of their income on cigarettes. They also have increased mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. The most effective interventions to help psychiatric patients stop smoking are similar to those that are effective in the general population. These include psychological treatments, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion and nortriptyline, at least in the short term. Most studies agree that these gains can be achieved in the absence of significant adverse effects in terms of psychological morbidity. Effects diminish over time, but these findings also apply to the general population. The best long-term results have come from extended prescription and psychological interventions, and apply equally to patients with and without a history of psychiatric disorder, such as major depression. In spite of this, clinicians are not fully exploiting opportunities to help psychiatric patients stop smoking. It is not possible to plan a programme to help individuals stop smoking in mental health settings unless factors such as demographics, diagnosis and concurrent medication are taken into account.