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.

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.
Reduce to quit (gradual reduction)
Making the decision to gradually cut down before you reach your quit date is a great step in the right direction.


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 from 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.