Methods and medications

Find the options that best suit you.

Accessing prescription medications and nicotine replacement therapy in BC to quit tobacco

You can get coverage for up to 12 weeks for one of the following two options:
prescription medications or Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

More about your coverage

Prescription medications to quit tobacco

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.
Brand Name
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Blocks effects of nicotine
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Makes smoking less pleasurable
Covered by PharmaCare BC

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 tobacco and can increase your chances of quit success. It's even more effective when combined with counselling.
Release Type
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Nicotine gum
Good for occasional smokers
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine lozenges
Different strengths available
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine patch
Good for heavy smokers
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine inhaler
Choose how often to use it
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine mouth spray
Choose how often to use it
Not covered by PharmaCare BC

Combination Nicotine Replacement Therapy

What is combination NRT?

Combination NRT is using two forms of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to increase your chance of successfully quitting, as follows:

  • Long-acting NRT (nicotine patch) to provide steady levels of nicotine.

  • Short-acting NRT (gum, lozenge, inhaler or spray) to help reduce breakthrough cravings or deal with challenging situations. 


  • Combining a long-acting nicotine patch with a short-acting NRT like nicotine gum, when used as directed, can increase quit rates compared to using a single NRT product. 

Who are good candidates for combination NRT?

Combination NRT may be appropriate for people who:

  • Have used NRT in previous quit attempts but relapsed while using it.
  • Feel they need something more than a patch or other single form of NRT to deal with intense cravings to smoke.

Talk to your doctor prior to using any kind of combination therapy, including combining NRTs, or combining prescription smoking cessation therapy with NRTs. Be sure to review how to use each NRT product properly, including the warnings and precautions for each product.

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.
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Reduces pleasure to nicotine
Not covered by PharmaCare BC
More detailsHide details

Cytisine is a compound found in some plants. It works by blocking the effects of nicotine to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. If you start smoking again while taking cytisine, you won't feel as satisfied. This improves your chances of quitting.

In Canada, one product containing cytisine (brandname Cravv®) has been licensed for sale as a natural health product. This term includes products such as vitamins and minerals, herbal medicines and other alternative and traditional medicines.


When combined with brief behavioral support, cytisine was found to be superior to nicotine replacement therapy in helping smokers quit smoking, but it was associated with a higher frequency of self-reported adverse events (nausea, vomiting and sleep disorders). 


Cytisine works by changing the way the body reacts to nicotine. It makes it harder to get pleasure to nicotine and also helps to reduce cravings by blocking the receptor in the body that responds to nicotine. Other advantages include:

  • It is easy to use
  • It does not contain nicotine, which is important to some people
  • Short duration of therapy (25 days)

Common side effects

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia and abnormal dreams

How to use

Cytisine is available as a pill that you take by mouth and is available as a natural health product. The manufacturer recommends users to:

  • Reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day after you start using cytisine until you no longer smoke at day 5 – your quit date.
  • The recommended use of cytisine is:
    • 1 capsule 6 times daily every 2 hrs, with a corresponding reduction of the number of cigarettes smoked, for the first 3 days.
    • 4th to 12th day: 1 capsule every 2.5hrs ( 5 capsules daily )
    • 13th to 16th day: 1 capsule every 3hrs ( 4 capsules daily )
    • 17th to 20th day: 1 capsule every 5hrs ( 3 capsules daily )
    • 21st to 25th day: 1 to 2 capsules daily

Warnings & precautions

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

  • Have an allergy to cytisine.
  • Currently using nicotine replacement therapy (like gum or patch). The combination of taking both does not increase your chance of quitting and increases the likelihood of experiencing side effects.
  • Less than 18 years old.

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

  • exacerbated peptic ulcer
  • ischemic heart disease
  • cardiac impairment
  • cerebrovascular diseases
  • obliterating arterial diseases
  • hyperthyroidism
  • diabetes mellitus 
  • renal or hepatic insufficiency
  • pregnant or breastfeeding

Stop taking cytisine and speak to your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • mental confusion
  • rapid heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • marked weakness
E-cigarettes / Vaping
Currently under investigation by the Government of Canada
Not covered by PharmaCare BC
Gradual reduction
Keep you engaged in a positive behavior change
Not applicable by PharmaCare BC
Alternative therapies
Variety of options available
Not applicable by PharmaCare BC
Cold turkey
Not applicable
Not applicable by PharmaCare BC

Questions about symptoms or your health?

Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your personal health in order to understand how different medications can interact.