Get help quitting tobacco

BC PharmaCare's Smoking Cessation Program helps eligible B.C residents of any age stop using tobacco products.

PharmaCare pays:

How does it work?

Each calendar year (January to December), you can receive PharmaCare coverage for one continuous course of treatment of up to 12 weeks (84 days) for either NRT or prescription medication. You will get one month’s supply at a time. The 12-week coverage period begins when you pick up your first NRT product or fill your first prescription.

If you are still smoking at the end of the treatment, you can receive coverage for another course of treatment the following year (starting January 1), if you meet the eligibility criteria again. The latest you can start treatment is November 6, to complete the full course of treatment before the end of the calendar year.

After you pick up your first month's supply, you have 84 days to request your remaining prescription or NRT supplies. After that, if you want additional coverage, you will have to wait until the next calendar year before PharmaCare will help pay for these products again.

Visit your local pharmacy. You and the pharmacist must both sign a declaration form. You do not need a prescription, and you can likely get NRTs the same day. 

You do not need to be signed up for Fair PharmaCare, but you do need to be enrolled in MSP.

You may want to talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about whether NRTs are the best choice for you if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problem, kidney disease, breathing issue)
  • Were recently in the hospital

Quitting smoking can affect how your body handles substances including medications and caffeine. Talk to your healthcare provider about any medications or substances you may be taking. 

During a quit attempt, monitoring or adjustment may be needed for medications such as:

  • caffeine
  • clonazepam
  • olanzapine
  • insulin
  • warfarin
  • benzodiazepines

If you experience side effects such as skin irritation, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

  1. Talk to a healthcare provider to see if smoking cessation drugs are right for you.
  2. If they prescribe a drug, they will advise you on how best to improve your chances of quitting.
  3. Fill your prescription at the pharmacy.

PharmaCare helps pay for two prescribed smoking cessation drugs:

  • Bupropion (brand name Zyban®), and
  • Varenicline generics (brand name Champix® is only covered partially)

You must be covered by one of these PharmaCare plans:

To find out if you are covered by any of these plans, contact Health Insurance BC.

Not registered for PharmaCare? If you register for Fair PharmaCare online or by phone, you get immediate temporary income-based coverage. There is no cost to register.

Switching from one NRT product to another NRT product

If you started with an NRT product and want to switch to a different NRT product, you can request this at your pharmacy when you go for your next refill.

Switching from one prescription drug to another prescription drug

If you started with a smoking cessation prescription drug and want to switch to a different prescription drug, your healthcare provider can likely prescribe the other drug. Your healthcare provider will need to submit a Special Authority request before PharmaCare will cover the new drug.

Switching from an NRT product to a prescription drug

If you started with an NRT product and want to switch to a prescription smoking cessation drug, you will usually have to wait until the next calendar year before PharmaCare will provide coverage.

In some cases, PharmaCare will cover the prescription drug in the same year. Your healthcare provider will need to submit a Special Authority request.

Switching from a prescription drug to an NRT product

If you paid the entire cost of the prescription smoking cessation drug without any PharmaCare contribution, you can get an NRT product free of charge.

If PharmaCare paid part or all of the cost of the prescription smoking cessation drug, you may be able to get an NRT product at no charge in the same year. Your healthcare provider will need to submit a Special Authority request. provides one-on-one support and valuable resources in multiple languages to help you plan, start and manage quitting smoking or using other tobacco products. Visit before you start using NRT products or prescription drugs. See their:

  • Medication Guide—All about prescription smoking cessation drugs and NRT products
  • Stories from British Columbians who have quit
  • Videos on how to use nicotine patches and gum to get the right amount of nicotine and avoid withdrawal symptoms

FNHA clients

First Nations individuals on a journey to quit commercial tobacco may be interested in learning about coverage through the FNHA Health Benefits Program. See Coverage for Products to Quit the Use of Commercial Tobacco (PDF, 186KB)

See also First Nations Health Authority Respecting Tobacco for a variety of resources for First Nations people, including videos and podcasts.

Questions about PharmaCare?

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