BC Smoking Cessation Program

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The B.C. Smoking Cessation Program helps eligible B.C. residents who wish to stop smoking or using other tobacco products by:

  • covering 100% of the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (specific nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, inhaler), or
  • contributing to the cost of specific smoking cessation prescription drugs.

Your Options

Eligible residents can be covered for one of the following two treatment options:

Option 1—NRT products (gum, lozenges, patches or inhaler)

Option 2—Prescription smoking cessation drugs:

  • bupropion (brand name Zyban®), or
  • varenicline generics (or brand name Champix®)*

Getting Started

Treatment Option 1—Non-Prescription Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) Products

The B.C. Smoking Cessation Program covers:

  • Nicorette® gum1 (2 mg, 4 mg)
  • Nicorette® lozenge (2 mg, 4 mg)
  • Nicorette® inhaler2 (10 mg)
  • Nicoderm® patch (7 mg, 14 mg, 21 mg)

1. Nicorette gum flavour: Ultra Fresh Mint only
2. 4 mg delivered

Each calendar year, eligible B.C. residents can receive a single continuous course of treatment (up to 12 weeks or 84 days in a row) with NRTs.

What you have to do

Visit your local pharmacy. Both you and the pharmacist must sign a declaration form.

Note: You can get NRT products without seeing your doctor or being registered for PharmaCare. However, you may want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor to determine whether they are the best choice for you. This is important if you:

  • are pregnant
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any chronic medical conditions
  • were recently in the hospital
  • take any regular medications

Tip: If you are taking prescription medications or have health issues (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney disease, breathing problems, or pregnancy), talk to your doctor and pharmacist before you start any smoking cessation treatment.  That way, your doctor and pharmacist can take this into account when caring for your other health issues.

Treatment Option 2—Prescription Smoking Cessation Drugs

PharmaCare covers two smoking cessation drugs—bupropion (brand name Zyban®) or varenicline generics*—the same way it covers other prescription drugs. To get coverage, you have to be registered for the Fair PharmaCare plan** or covered by one of the following PharmaCare plans:

* Champix® (brand name varenicline) is now covered only as a partial benefit under PharmaCare. Ask your doctor about the low cost alternatives.

** Fair PharmaCare is the income-based plan. Registration is free and there are no premiums to pay.

Each calendar year, PharmaCare will cover one prescription smoking cessation drug for a single continuous course of treatment (up to 12 weeks or 84 days in a row).

What you have to do

  1. Check with Health Insurance BC to make sure you are covered under a PharmaCare plan. Most people are registered for Fair PharmaCare. If you are not registered, you can register online or by phone and get immediate temporary coverage.
  2. When you see your doctor, ask if one of the prescription smoking cessation drugs is appropriate for you. Depending on your medical history, your doctor may prescribe one of these drugs or suggest you try nicotine replacement therapy or some other smoking cessation strategy.
  3. If your doctor recommends one of the prescription drugs, they will advise you on how best to take the drug to improve your chances of quitting.
  4. Take your prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. You will be asked to sign a Declaration form.
  5. When you fill your prescription at the pharmacy for the first time, you will be given a 28-day supply. Return to the pharmacy near the end of that 28-day supply for the next refill.

Covered by Fair PharmaCare? When you fill your prescription, if you have not met your Fair PharmaCare annual deductible, you will pay all of the cost—but the drug’s eligible cost will count toward your deductible. If you have met your deductible but not your family maximum, PharmaCare covers 70% of the eligible cost and you pay the remaining 30%. If you have met your annual family maximum, PharmaCare covers 100% of the eligible cost.

Getting Support

QuitNow.ca provides one-on-one support and valuable resources in multiple languages to help you plan your strategy before you get your smoking cessation aids. Planning increases your chances of success. When you are ready, the program will be there for you. For example, QuitNow.ca offers:

  • Quitting—a suite of resources to help you plan, start and manage your quit-smoking process.
  • Medication Guide—This guide tells you about prescription smoking cessation drugs and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products.
  • Stories from other 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

If You Tried to Quit but Started Using Tobacco Again

It often takes more than one attempt to stop smoking or using tobacco. That is why you can take part in the B.C. Smoking Cessation Program more than once.

I tried a smoking cessation prescription drug, but it didn’t work. I still crave tobacco. Can I get free NRTs now?

PharmaCare will cover only one course of prescription medication or one course of NRTs, not both in a single calendar year.

So, if PharmaCare covered any portion of your smoking cessation medications or NRTs, you will not be eligible for coverage of either until the following calendar year.

What if I start using tobacco again? Can I access smoking cessation aids under the program again?

If you started using tobacco again in the same year as you completed a 12-week course of treatment, you have to wait until January 1 of the following year to start a new course.

How many times can I take part in the program?

You can take part in the smoking cessation program only once in a calendar year and must meet the eligibility criteria each time.

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information, see our list of the most commonly asked questions.

Smoking Cessation Publications

Smoking Cessation Program Information

Other publications

Materials for Educators