Methods and medications

Find the options that best suit you.

Accessing prescription medications and nicotine replacement therapy in BC

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

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 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
More detailsHide details

Effectiveness

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

Advantages

  • It mimics the hand-to-mouth action of smoking.
  • The user decides how often to use the inhaler.
  • Reduces the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal cravings and irritability.

Common side effects

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Mouth or throat irritation
  • Stomach upset

How to use

  • Take the mouthpiece out of its plastic wrapper.
  • Line-up the markings on the mouthpiece and separate the two pieces.
  • Remove one cartridge to the foil wrapped tray.
  • Press the cartridge firmly down into the bottom of the mouthpiece until the seal breaks.
  • Replace the top of the mouthpiece. Line up the markings.
  • Press the cartridge firmly down to break the upper seal of the cartridge.
  • Twist the mouthpiece to mis-align the markings.
  • With the tapered end of the mouthpiece in your mouth, either take in deep or short puff into the back of the throat.
  • Each cartridge will last for about 20 minutes of continuous frequent puffing.
  • When the cartridge is empty, remove the cartridge to the mouthpiece and dispose of the cartridge out of reach to children and pets.
  • Clean the mouthpiece regularly with soap and water.
  • Don't have any acidic beverages like coffee, tea, juice, and soda while using the inhaler. The acid in these drinks can prevent your mouth to absorbing the nicotine to the inhaler.

Recommended schedule

  • Use at least six to twelve cartridges per day initially.
  • Do not use more than twelve cartridges a day.
  • As your body adjusts to not smoking, you can choose to stop using the inhaler or slowly reduce the number of cartridges you use a day.
  • Do not use the inhaler for more than six months.
     

Warnings & precautions

Consult your pharmacist or physician prior to using the inhaler if the following apply to you:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Being treated for any serious heart condition.
  • Heart attack or stroke within the 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 inhaler immediately and see your doctor if you have:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Leg pain
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Rash or hives

Coverage of Nicotine Inhaler for BC Residents 

Each calendar year, eligible BC residents can receive up to a three month supply of Nicorette® inhaler and cartridges (10 mg) through the PharmaCare BC Smoking Cessation Program. You can find more information about how to access this program here.

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
Reduces exposure to harmful chemicals
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 to understand how different medications will interact and about your personal health.