Quit Smoking Medications

Public advisory on nicotine pouches
Nicotine pouches are new to Ontario and there is limited information on their health effects, or how effective they are at helping people quit smoking. In March 2024, Health Canada released a public advisory related to the use of nicotine pouches, that cautions they should not be used by anyone under 18. As nicotine pouches do not contain tobacco, they are not enforced under the Smoke Free Ontario Act or the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act. Use of these products, like other products that contain nicotine (vapes, cigarettes) can lead to nicotine addiction.

In Ontario, nicotine pouches are being promoted and sold in convenience stores and gas stations, with in-store promotions that may be located near candy or chocolate bars. However, illegal products, such as “Zyn,” have also been seen on the market, and should be reported to Health Canada. Do not buy or use any unauthorized nicotine pouches. Always keep nicotine products out of the reach of children and teens.

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy can double your chances of quitting smoking for good. You don't need a prescription since it is available over the counter. If you work, your employer's health plan may offer coverage. If you don't have coverage, you must pay for it yourself since there is no government coverage for nicotine replacement therapy.

Talk to your health-care provider about which nicotine replacement therapy might work best for you. The different kinds of nicotine replacement therapy include:

  • Patch 
  • Gum 
  • Inhaler
  • Lozenges
  • Mouth spray

There are a few programs, listed below, that offer free nicotine replacement therapy. Contact the program directly for up to date information.

Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients (STOP) Program: 

This program provides smoking cessation treatment and counselling to individuals 18 years of age and older across Ontario who want to quite smoking.

Eligible smokers can participate in a new online smoking cessation program by self-registering online at STOP on the Net. Through this program you will be mailed up to four weeks of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) including nicotine patches and nicotine gum or lozenges. Enrollment will be open until quantities last.

If you are not eligible to participate, contact Health Connect Ontario for free smoking cessation counselling and support at 811 or TTY at 1-866-797-0007 or visit Smokers' Helpline.

Other medications

Talk to your health-care provider to find out if you can use medication to help you to quit smoking. Cytisine is a natural health product and does not require a prescription from a health care provider. Both ZybanTM (Bupropion) and ChampixTM (Varenicline) require a prescription from one of the following health-care providers: physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or dentist.


Bupropion is an anti-depressant prescription medication that also helps people with quitting smoking. Bupropion helps smokers cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms experienced when quitting smoking. For best results, Bupropion should be used in combination with smoking cessation education and counselling. It can also be used with nicotine replacement therapy. 


Cytisine is an alkaloid that occurs naturally in several plants and works to help block receptors in the brain that bind with nicotine to help reduce cravings in smokers. You do not need a prescription to use Cytisine. Cravv® is the only Cytisine natural health product approved by Health Canada and can be purchased at www.zpharm.ca and in select pharmacies across Canada. 

Champix TM (Varenicline) 

Champix is a prescription medication designed to help people quit smoking. ChampixTM reduces the pleasure that people get from smoking and helps smokers cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For best results ChampixTM should be used in combination with smoking cessation education and counselling. 

Coverage for quit-smoking medications

Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODBP) recipients 

One 12-week course of either ChampixTM or ZybanTM per year/per patient is covered for Ontario Drug Benefit Program recipients. People covered by this program include:

  • Those 65 years of age and older
  • Residents of long-term care homes
  • Residents of Homes for Special Care
  • People receiving professional services under the Home Care program
  • Trillium Drug Program registrants
  • Clients who are receiving social assistance (i.e. Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program)

NOTE: Non-Ontario Drug Benefit Program smokers must pay for a ChampixTM or ZybanTM prescription on their own. There is no coverage provided unless it is through an employer extended health benefit plan. 

Community pharmacists 

Not all community pharmacies are participating in this program. Trained community pharmacists can prescribe and give out smoking cessation prescription medications and provide smoking cessation counselling for Ontario Drug Benefit Program recipients.The program offers the enrolled patients a first consultation appointment and a number of follow-up counselling sessions over a one-year period.

For more information, visit Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program

NOTE: Non-Ontario Drug Benefit Program smokers must pay for a ChampixTM or ZybanTM prescription on their own. There is no coverage provided, unless it is through an employer extended health benefit plan.

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