Background In the West, the effectiveness of smoking cessation programmes is well established. Smoking cessation programmes in the East are rare. We evaluated a pilot smoking cessation health centre (SCHC) of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH).

Methods The clinic operated 3 days a week from 6 to 9 pm. Smokers were recruited mainly by low cost publicity. Trained counsellors provided individual counselling and a 1 week free supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). The programme was evaluated in terms of process, outcome and cost.

Results During August 2000 to January 2002, 2212 calls were received through the clinic hotline and 1203 smokers attended the clinic. Eight hundred and forty‐one were successfully followed up at 12 months. Based on intention‐to‐treat analysis, the 7 day point prevalence quit rate at 12 months (not smoking any cigarette during the past 7 days at the 12 month follow‐up) was 27 per cent (95 per cent confidence interval, CI 25–30 per cent). The average cost per quitter was US$339 (US$440 including NRT cost for a 1 week free supply). Other benefits included training of healthcare workers and medical students, organization of seminars, health talks and self‐help groups, and promotion of research and training.

Conclusion This first evaluation of a clinic‐based smoking cessation service in Asia showed that the service was acceptable to Chinese smokers. The quit rate in this pilot part‐time clinic is comparable to those of full‐time and better funded clinics in the West. A part‐time smoking cessation clinic is a promising model for piloting smoking cessation services in the East.