Methods and medications

There are many effective ways to quit smoking, and no one way works for everyone. To increase your chances of quitting for good, it’s helpful to know which evidence-based methods have been proven to increase your odds of success. Evidence shows that combining telephone counselling with medications or NRT can increase your chances of successfully quitting. Learn about the various methods and medications to help you determine what will work best for you.

Quit with extra help. Explore our resources and tools to make quitting easier. 

Prescription medications

Prescription medications do not contain nicotine but reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms by affecting how nicotine interacts with your brain. Using quitting medications can increase your chances of quitting smoking successfully. It's even more effective when combined with counselling support.
Bupropion SR (brand name Zyban®)
Bupropion (Zyban®) is only available by prescription from your doctor. It can help balance chemicals in your brain to reduce your withdrawal symptoms. This improves your chances of quitting.

Bupropion (Zyban®) is one of two prescription medications covered under the PharmaCare BC Smoking Cessation program.


When used as directed, there is evidence that buproprion can increase your chances of quitting successfully.


Buproprion is a prescription-only drug treatment that works by changing the brain's response to nicotine. It makes smoking less pleasurable and reduces cravings while you work on your smoking habits. Other advantages include:

  • It doesn't contain nicotine.
  • It can delay weight gain after quitting for some people.

Common side effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Shakiness or nervousness
  • Weight loss

How to use

Bupropion is available as a pill that you take by mouth. 

  • Start taking bupropion about two weeks before you quit smoking. This builds up the level of medicine in your body.
  • Continue to smoke as usual while taking bupropion until your quit date.
  • You can take bupropion with or without food.
  • The recommended dose of bupropion to help you quit smoking is:
    • Days 1-3: Take one 150mg tablet once a day in the morning.
    • Day 4 to the end of treatment: Take one 150 mg tablet twice a day, once in the morning and once in the early evening  (at least 8 hours between doses).
    • The recommended length of bupropion therapy is seven to twelve weeks.

Warnings & precautions

As with any prescription medication, there are benefits and risks to taking bupropion. Health Canada has determined that for bupropion, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Do not use bupropion if one of the following applies to you:

  • Currently using bupropion for another reason (such as Wellbutrin for depression)
  • Have an allergy to bupropion
  • Have a seizure disorder
  • Have an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Heavy alcohol drinker who plans to quit drinking abruptly
  • Currently use or recently (in the last two weeks) have used a class of medications called Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAO-I)
  • Currently using a drug called thioridazine

Speak to a doctor or pharmacist about whether bupropion is right for you if one of the following applies to you:

  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding
  • High blood pressure
  • Less than 18 years old
  • Currently taking medications that can increase your risk of seizures

Stop bupropion and speak to your doctor or healthcare provider immediately if you experience:

  • Agitation
  • Depressed mood
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviour

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works by providing the body with nicotine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. NRT is one of the most effective tools to help people quit and can increase your chances of quit success. It's even more effective when combined with counselling.

Other methods

There are other quit methods and approaches that people use to quit, but some are more effective than others. Read more about which methods will increase your likelihood of quitting in the long run.