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
More detailsHide details

Effectiveness

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

Advantages

  • The nicotine gum is good for occasional smokers to reduce withdrawal symptoms, cravings and manage stress.
  • You can use the gum to help you reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke daily.

Common side effects

Nicotine gum is not like regular gum. If used incorrectly, you are more likely to experience side effects, including:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset
  • Mouth, throat or gum irritation
  • Jaw ache
  • Hiccups
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping

How to use

Note: The taste of nicotine gum can be unpleasant at first but most people get used to it with regular use.

  • Nicotine gum shouldn’t be chewed like regular chewing gum. Use bite-park technique. 'Bite' the gum once or twice, then “park” the gum in the corner of your mouth (between your cheek and gums).
  • Wait one minute, bite the gum a few more times, and then “park” the gum again.
  • Repeat the 'bite' and “park” process for 30 minutes.
  • It takes 15 to 30 minutes for the gum to start working so use the gum prior to when you think you will need it. For instance, if you used to smoke on your coffee break, take the gum 30 minutes prior to your regular break.
  • Avoid acidic food or beverages like coffee, tea, juice, and soda 15 minutes before using the gum. The acid in these products can prevent your mouth to absorbing the nicotine to the gum.
     

Warnings & precautions

If you have an active jaw disease or jaw/dental pain you should use a different form of nicotine replacement therapy, as these conditions will make it difficult to use the gum.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist prior to starting the gum if the following apply to you:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Have heart arrhythmias, have had a heart attack or have angina pectoris.
  • Heart attack or stroke within last two weeks.
  • Require kidney dialysis.
  • Use any prescribed medication regularly. Smoking alters the effects of some medications, and when you quit smoking it may be necessary for your doctor to adjust the doses, especially if you are diabetic, taking medications for high blood pressure or heart disease, or taking antidepressants, tranquilizers or sleeping pills.

Stop using the nicotine gum immediately and see your doctor if you experience the following:

  • chest pain
  • irregular heartbeat
  • palpitations
  • leg pain
  • persistent stomach pain

Fully covered supply of Nicotine Gum for BC Residents 

Each calendar year, eligible BC residents can receive up to a three month supply of  Nicorette® gum (2 mg, 4 mg) through the PharmaCare BC Smoking Cessation Program. You can find more information about how to access this program here.

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
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.