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 inhaler
The inhaler is an option for people who miss the hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking. It is a non-prescription (over-the-counter) nicotine replacement therapy product you can get from your local pharmacy.


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


  • 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 from 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 from the mouthpiece and dispose of the cartridge out of reach from 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 from absorbing the nicotine from 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.

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.