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
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
More detailsHide details

Effectiveness

The reduce to quit method has proven to increase your chances of quit success in the long-term.

What does “reduce to quit” mean?

The reduce to quit method involves gradually reducing tobacco intake while using NRT products like nicotine gum or lozenges, to help manage nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This approach is often done over a six-month period, or until the person reaches the point where stopping completely can be achieved. 

  • Slowly reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.
  • Choose a quit date - usually over a six-month period (although you can choose any quit date and work out your own cut down schedule).
  • Manage the withdrawal symptoms by using nicotine replacement therapy and behavioural techniques like the 4 D’s (Drink Water, Deep Breathe, Distract, Do Something Else).

Advantages of using the reduce to quit method

  • Keep you engaged in a positive behavior change
  • Make it easier to stick with your plan to eventually quit
  • Provide you with a more realistic goal 
  • Respect your decision to manage your smoking the way you want to
  • Help you achieve small health benefits by reducing the amount you smoke overall
  • Nicotine is what your body craves as you reduce to quit, so it’s better to get clean nicotine found in the gum, inhaler or lozenge as it does not have the tar and other chemicals that can harm your body.

Suggested plan to reduce to quit: (6 month period)

Weeks 1-6

  • Identify which cigarettes in your days you smoke because they are part of your routine rather than a real need
  • Replace these cigarettes with a short-acting nicotine replacement product like the gum, lozenge or inhaler
  • Reduce by one cigarette each week to ease into it

Weeks 7-16

  • Your goal is to get down to 50% of your original number of cigarettes by week 16
  • You will need to work on eliminating some of those more difficult cigarettes, like the first one in the morning or the one after work
  • Continue to use nicotine gum, lozenge or inhaler to help manage the withdrawal symptoms

Week 17-24

  • Your body has gotten used to having less nicotine so it will be less dependent on it
  • Continue to eliminate cigarettes to your day by replacing them with the gum, lozenge or inhaler
  • You are so close to quitting for good
  • you should be close to quitting for good at this stage, but can continue to use the gum, lozenge or inhaler whenever you get an urge to smoke.
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.