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
Name
Advantage
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Champix®
Varenicline
Blocks effects of nicotine
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Zyban®
Bupropion
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.
Name
Release Type
Advantage
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Nicotine gum
Short-acting
Good for occasional smokers
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine lozenges
Short-acting
Different strengths available
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine patch
Long-acting
Good for heavy smokers
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine inhaler
Short-acting
Choose how often to use it
Covered by PharmaCare BC
Nicotine mouth spray
Short-acting
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. 

Effectiveness

  • 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.
Name
Advantage
PharmaCare BC Coverage
Cytisine
Reduces pleasure to nicotine
Not covered by PharmaCare BC
E-cigarettes / Vaping
Currently under investigation by the Government of Canada
Not covered by PharmaCare BC
More detailsHide details

If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to improve your health. There is free support to help you quit, including QuitNow’s counselling services and medications covered by PharmaCare BC Smoking Cessation Program.

The Government of Canada is currently investigating the emergence of a severe vaping-related lung illness, also referred to as severe pulmonary illness. Stay up to date on the investigation and what to do if you become ill from e-cigarettes here. Please refer to our e-cigarettes and vaping landing page for QuitNow support services on vaping.

 

Health risks of vaping

There are a number of health concerns relating to vaping, including the presence of nicotine, other harmful chemicals, exposure to second-hand vape, and device malfunctions.

Vaping with nicotine: Nicotine is not known to cause cancer. It is approved for use in nicotine replacement therapies, such as the patch or nicotine gum. However, there are risks linked to nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Vaping could result in symptoms of nicotine dependence.

Children and youth are especially susceptible to the negative effects of nicotine, including addiction. Nicotine is known to alter brain development and can affect memory and concentration. It may also predispose youth to addiction to nicotine and possibly other drugs.

In some cases, vaping liquid containers have enough nicotine to be poisonous to young children. Children must be prevented to getting vaping liquid.

Health risks of other chemicals in vaping: There are health risks linked to other chemicals found in vaping products. While the main liquids in vaping products are considered safe for use in many consumer products, the long-term safety of inhaling them is unknown and continues to be assessed.

The heating of the liquid during vaping can cause new chemicals to be created. Some contaminants might also get into the vaping products and then into the vapour.

Second-hand vapour: Bystanders can also be exposed to vapour that is exhaled by users. The health effects to non-users to exposure to second-hand vapour are still unknown. While the risks to vapour are expected to be much lower than tobacco smoke, Health Canada recommends that users be cautious around non-users and youth.

Device malfunctions: Injuries to vaping product malfunctions, including explosions and fires, have occurred. For more information on product safety requirements, and how to protect yourself, read about vaping product, safety and regulation. 

More information
In British Columbia, the sale, display, promotion and use of e-cigarettes are regulated under the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act and Regulations.

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.