Tobacco dependence is recognised as a life-threatening disorder with serious oral health consequences which responds to treatment in the form of behavioural support and medication. While cigarette smoking is the most hazardous and prevalent form of tobacco use in the west, consideration also needs to be given to other forms such as bidi smoking in India, reverse smoking by several rural populations and use of snuff and chewing tobacco. The evidence that the use of tobacco is the major risk factor for oral cancer and potentially malignant lesions of the mouth is clear. Counseling to quit smoking is not applied in a systematic or frequent manner to people presenting with potentially malignant lesions of the oral cavity. This review makes recommendations for interventions by health professionals to encourage and aid cessation of tobacco use as a part of prevention of oral cancer.