Smoking Cessation Medications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of medicines to help you give up smoking:


Varenicline (ChantixTM) - This is a new and different type of medicine for quitting smoking. Chantix acts at sites in the brain affected by nicotine. It works in two ways:

  1. lessens withdrawal symptoms
  2. blocks enjoyable effects of smoking

ChantixTM is a pill that must be prescribed by a healthcare provider. Begin taking ChantixTM  one week before your Quit Date. It is okay to continue to smoke before your Quit Date. Don't use the nicotine patch while taking ChantixTM .

ChantixTM is generally taken for at least 12 weeks. If you have quit smoking at the end of 12 weeks, your doctor may advise taking it for 12 more weeks. In recent studies, people who continued taking ChantixTM for 6 months were much more likely to quit and remain tobacco-free at one year. Some people have an upset stomach the first week of taking ChantixTM .


Bupropion SR (Zyban®) - This is a pill that decreases your desire to smoke. It is a prescription medicine and should not be taken if you are taking certain other medicines. Make sure that your doctor is aware of all medicines you take. You should start taking this pill 7-10 days before your Quit Date. Most people need to continue taking this medicine for up to six months. Ask your doctor how long you should take this medicine. The following medicines are Nicotine Replacement Treatments. This means that they provide nicotine to your body in a form other than smoking. These medicines should be started on your Quit Date. It is important that you don't smoke when using nicotine replacement treatments. Also, it is important to follow the instructions in the package so you can benefit from the treatment.


Nicotine Gum (Nicorette®) - This gum is available without a prescription. When you chew nicotine gum, it releases nicotine and it is absorbed by the blood vessels in your mouth. This gum should be chewed a few times to release the nicotine and then placed between your cheek and gum.


Nicotine Nasal Spray (Nicotrol NS®) - The nicotine nasal spray delivers nicotine very quickly - within 7-10 seconds - into your bloodstream. This helps to reduce craving for a cigarette. It is available by prescription from your doctor.


Nicotine Inhaler (Nicotrol®) - The nicotine inhaler is a small device that you hold in your hand and inhale, similar to a cigarette. As you inhale from it, nicotine is quickly delivered into your blood stream. This helps to reduce craving for a cigarette. It is available by prescription from your doctor.


Nicotine Patch (Habitrol®, NicoDermCQ, Nicotrol, ProStep®) - There are a number of nicotine patches available. Some require a prescription and others are available over-the-counter. Some generic patches are available at a lower cost. A nicotine patch is placed onto your skin and releases nicotine into your blood stream. It maintains an even level of nicotine in your system without smoking. Keep in mind that it can take up to 2 hours for your blood level of nicotine to reach that level when you put a new patch on each morning. It is important that you don't smoke when wearing a patch.


Nicotine Lozenge (Commit®) - The nicotine lozenge can be helpful for people who want to keep their mouth busy. It releases nicotine as you allow the lozenge to dissolve slowly in your mouth. You can buy it without a prescription. It is available in two strengths.

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