BC Smoking Cessation Program
The BC Smoking Cessation Program helps eligible B.C. residents stop smoking or using other tobacco products by:
- covering 100% of the cost of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (e.g., specific nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, inhaler), or
- covering some of the cost of specific smoking cessation prescription drugs.
The BC Smoking Cessation Program covers several NRTs. (See Eligible Smoking Cessation Products).
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.
How do I get NRTs?
You can get NRT products without seeing your doctor or being registered for Fair PharmaCare. Visit your local pharmacy. Both you and the pharmacist must sign a declaration form.
Note: You may want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor to determine whether NRTs 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. Your doctor and pharmacist can take this information into account when caring for your other health issues.
PharmaCare covers two smoking cessation drugs under the smoking cessation program:
- bupropion (brand name Zyban®), or
- varenicline generics*
See the list of eligible prescription drugs and dosage types at Eligible Smoking Cessation Products.
To get coverage, you must be registered for the Fair PharmaCare plan** or covered by one of the following PharmaCare plans:
- Residential Care (Plan B)
- B.C. Income Assistance (Plan C)
- Psychiatric Medications (Plan G)
- First Nations Health Benefits (Plan W)
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).
* Champix® (brand name varenicline) is now only covered as a partial benefit under PharmaCare. Ask your doctor about the low-cost alternatives.
** Fair PharmaCare is an income-based plan–the less you earn, the more help you get. Registration is free.
How do I get coverage for smoking cessation prescription drugs?
- Check with Health Insurance BC to make sure you are covered under a PharmaCare plan. If you are not already registered for Fair PharmaCare, you can register online or by phone and get immediate temporary income-based coverage. If you don't register, you will have a Fair PharmaCare deductible of $10,000.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
What if I'm covered by Fair PharmaCare?
If you have not met your Fair PharmaCare annual deductible, you will pay the full cost of your prescription—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.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Information for educators
- List of covered Eligible Smoking Cessation Products
- 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
- Patient information sheets (available in multiple languages):