Tobacco smoking is the world’s leading cause of premature death and disability. Global targets to reduce premature deaths by 25% by 2025 will require a substantial increase in the number of smokers making a quit attempt, and a significant improvement in the success rates of those attempts in low, middle and high income countries. In many countries the only place where the majority of smokers can access support to quit is primary care. There is strong evidence of cost-effective interventions in primary care yet many opportunities to put these into practice are missed. This paper revises the approach proposed by the International Primary Care Respiratory Group published in 2008 in this journal to reflect important new evidence and the global variation in primary-care experience and knowledge of smoking cessation. Specific for primary care, that advocates for a holistic, bio-psycho-social approach to most problems, the starting point is to approach tobacco dependence as an eminently treatable condition. We offer a hierarchy of interventions depending on time and available resources. We present an equitable approach to behavioural and drug interventions.