Quitting

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.

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.
Cytisine
Cytisine has recently become available for sale in Canada. It is not covered under BC PharmaCare, and has not been reviewed by Canada's Common Drug Review.

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.

Effectiveness

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). 

Advantages

Cytisine works by changing the way the body reacts to nicotine. It makes it harder to get pleasure from 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