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), 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 for a list).
Each calendar year (from January to December), eligible B.C. residents can receive a single continuous course of treatment with NRTs. This can be up to 12 weeks (84 days in a row).
How do I get NRTs?
You can get NRT products without seeing your doctor. You do not need to be registered for Fair PharmaCare. Visit your local pharmacy. You and the pharmacist must both sign a declaration form.
Note: You may want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor about whether NRTs are the best choice for you. This is important if you:
- Are pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
- Have any chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney disease, breathing problems)
- Were recently in the hospital
- Take any regular or prescription medications
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.
You must be registered for Fair PharmaCare 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 (from January to December), PharmaCare will cover one prescription smoking cessation drug for a single continuous course of treatment. This can be up to 12 weeks (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.
How do I get coverage for smoking cessation prescription drugs?
- 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 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.
- Check with Health Insurance BC to make sure you are covered under a PharmaCare plan. If you register for Fair PharmaCare (online or by phone), you get immediate temporary income-based coverage.
- 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.
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)
- 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):