This paper reflects on the role of general practitioners in smoking cessation and suggests initiatives to enhance general practice as a setting for effective smoking cessation services. This paper is one of a series of reflections on key issues in smoking cessation. In this article we highlight the extent that general practitioners (GPs) have contact with the population, evidence for effectiveness of GP advice, barriers to greater involvement and suggested future directions. General practice has an extensive population reach, with the majority of smokers seeing a GP at least once per year. Although there is level 1 evidence of the effectiveness of smoking cessation advice from general practitioners, there are substantial barriers to this advice being incorporated routinely into primary care consultations. Initiatives to overcome these barriers are education in smoking cessation for GPs and other key practice staff; teaching of medical students about tobacco and cessation techniques, clinical practice guidelines; support for guideline implementation; access to pharmacotherapies; and development of referral models. We believe the way forward for the role of the GPs is to develop the practice as a primary care service for providing smoking cessation advice. This will require education relevant to the needs of a range of health professionals, provision of and support for the implementation of clinical practice guidelines, access for patients to smoking cessation pharmacotherapies and integration with other cessation services such as quitlines.