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.
Nicotine gum
Nicorette® gum is a non-prescription (over-the-counter) nicotine replacement therapy product. It only contains nicotine and none of the other toxins that are in tobacco smoke. Each piece of gum has nicotine in it, allowing you to receive nicotine when you have a craving for a cigarette.


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


  • 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 from absorbing the nicotine from 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 a 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.

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.