The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has been ordered to stop developing guidance on some public health topics and put others on hold.

The institute has been told to drop work on six topics including preventing unintentional road injuries, combating the market in illicit tobacco products, how retailers can provide advice when selling stop smoking products, and the development and implementation of policies for smoke free homes and cars.

A Department of Health spokesman told HSJ work on these topics would cease altogether and would not be transferred to any alternative government agency.

NICE guidance on a further five topics has been put on hold pending the results of separate government initiatives including sex education in schools and home based early interventions.

Ministers are also giving further consideration to whether NICE should develop guidance on eight topics on which work has not yet started.

These topics include advice for the police, social services and the NHS on preventing domestic violence, guidance on increasing fruit and vegetable provision for disadvantaged communities and on developing transport policies that encourage walking and cycling.

NICE will continue to produce public health guidance in nine other areas including skin cancer prevention, increasing HIV testing and identifying and managing tuberculosis in hard to reach groups.

The Department of Health says the decision will ensure the guidance produced is in line with local needs as set out in the public health white paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People.

The DH spokesman said: “NICE will continue to have an important role in developing robust, authoritative advice on public health interventions and we have made a few changes to some of the topics that NICE has been asked to produce guidance on.”

A spokeswoman for NICE said: “As a result of specific work to identify the best ways of approaching some major public health issues, the landscape is developing in a number of areas on which NICE has been asked to produce guidance and the postponement of work on these topics will allow the guidance to be reviewed and possibly adapted to any new configurations of services.”