Abstract Background. Until 1990, smoking cessation interventions in the Netherlands were limited. The utility and effectiveness of community-based smoking cessation programs have not been examined. Methods. In a treatment city (Den Bosch) a multicomponent community-based smoking cessation intervention was implemented in which local mass media and general practitioners draw smokers′ attention to a local quit line. Telephone counselors advised applicants on their choice between self-help and group treatment and optional telephone counseling. Another Dutch city (Apeldoorn) sewed as a control. Population samples of smokers ( n = 547 and n = 546) were interviewed three times at approximately 7-month intervals. Self-help manual requesters ( n = 84) and group participants ( n = 83) were interviewed before and 6 months after treatment. Results. Treatment modalities were successful; 13% of self-help manual requesters and 22% of group participants were abstinent after 6 months. On a population level the intervention resulted in significantly higher recall of self-help manual and group program in the treatment city. A modest intervention effect on prevalence of abstinence was found at the community level. Conclusions. Treatment modalities were effective within their participants, but the intervention effectiveness on a community level was limited. No significant difference was found between quit rates after 14 months (7% in treatment city and 9% in control city). Several system failures could be identified. However, probably the intervention effect was seriously confounded by two national governmental publicity campaigns introducing and reinforcing a mandatory smoking ban and a series of national campaigns initiated by the united Dutch tobacco producers opposing the ban.