Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Other Quit Smoking Medications

Using nicotine replacement therapy can double your chances of quitting smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy is available over the counter; you do not need a prescription. If you work, check with your employer health plan as you may be able to get coverage. If you do not have coverage through your employer, you must pay for it yourself as 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
  • Lozenge
  • Mouth spray

For more information on nicotine replacement therapy, go to:

Ontario Medical Association


Can I get FREE nicotine replacement therapy to help me quit?

There are a few programs available where you might be able to get nicotine replacement therapy for free. Contact the program directly for up to date information. Please note that Nicotine replacement therapy may only be available while quantities last.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - Smoking for Ontario Patients - STOP Program 

The STOP Study as part of The Smoking Treatment for Ontario Patients (STOP) Program is a research project that looks at how to best deliver nicotine replacement therapy and counselling support to smokers across Ontario.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health partners with existing healthcare organizations in local communities to increase access to FREE nicotine replacement therapy and counselling to help smokers make a quit attempt (not all centres participate in the STOP study):

  • Family Health Teams
  • Community Health Centres
  • Hospitals
  • Addictions Treatment Centres

If you are a patient of one of the sites listed above, contact your health care provider to ask if they are offering the STOP study.

St. Mary's Counselling Service - Tobacco Cessation Programs

  • Individual Counselling - a 4-session program that supports an individual to prepare for quitting tobacco
  • Quit Tobacco Group - a 6-session group program that supports members to prepare for quitting tobacco
  • FREE Nicotine Replacement Therapy Patches - Individuals may be eligible to receive 10 weeks of FREE nicotine replacement therapy patches as part of the STOP study
  • Craving tobacco? Call after hours and press 2 to access the Craving Hotline, a recording offering useful coping strategies

For more information about these FREE and confidential services call 519-745-2585 ext. 232.

STOP on the Road Workshops

Region of Waterloo Public Health has partnered with The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to provide STOP on the Road Workshops at various times throughout the year. STOP on the Road is an exciting program which brings smoking cessation treatment directly to Ontario smokers in their communities. Eligible smokers will participate in a three-hour educational presentation and will receive FREE nicotine replacement therapy to help them make a quit attempt. Interested smokers can:

  • Check the online STOP on the Road Schedule or call the STOP Program at 416-535-8501 ext. 34455 to find out if there is a workshop coming up in Waterloo Region or in another area close by (e.g. Brantford, Hamilton). 
  • Call the registration/screening phone number listed on the website to be screened over the phone to find out if you are able to attend a workshop. You will be asked questions about your smoking and health.
  • If you are eligible to participate, you will attend a three-hour workshop where you will learn about tips and tools to help you quit smoking and you will receive FREE nicotine replacement therapy to use to make a quit attempt.
  • If you are not eligible to participate, contact Smokers' Helpline for smoking cessation counselling and support at 1 877-513-5333 or http://www.smokershelpline.ca/

Leave the Pack Behind

Leave the Pack Behind is for young adults aged 18-29 to help them access nicotine replacement therapies through an online ordering system. A FREE, eight-week treatment course of nicotine replacement therapy patches or gum is offered to eligible young adults while supplies last.

Orders can be placed at http://www.leavethepackbehind.org/

The online program screens visitors' eligibility to receive the free nicotine patches or gum and determines the appropriate treatment course/dosage that matches the level of tobacco use (e.g., light/heavy).

Young adult smokers who access the online program to order nicotine patch/gum will complete:

  • An online baseline survey when they enter the study
  • An optional follow-up survey six months after your quit attempt to ask you about your experience

Eligible smokers will receive their nicotine replacement therapy in the mail along with an instruction booklet on how to use the nicotine replacement therapy and various self-help quit resources (e.g. Smokers' Helpline self-help booklet, Crush the Crave app).


Prescription Medications

Talk to your health care provider to find out if you are able to use a prescription medication to help you to quit smoking. Both ZybanTM (Bupropion) and ChampixTM (Varenicline) require a prescription from one of the following health care providers: physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or dentist.

Zyban TM (Bupropion)

ZybanTM is a prescription anti-depressant medication that was found to also help people with quitting smoking. ZybanTM helps smokers cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms experienced when quitting smoking. For best results, ZybanTM should be used in combination with smoking cessation education and counselling. Zyban can be used with nicotine replacement therapy.

Champix TM (Varenicline)

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


Is there any coverage for smoking cessation prescription medications?

Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODBP) Recipients

As of August 4, 2011, one 12-week course of either ChampixTM or ZybanTM is available for coverage per 365 days/per patient (once a year) for Ontario Drug Benefit Program recipients ONLY.

People covered by the Ontario Drug Benefit 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 (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

As of September 1, 2011 the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC) has launched a program whereby community pharmacists (who are trained to do so) are able to prescribe and dispense smoking cessation prescription medications (ChampixTM and ZybanTM) and provide smoking cessation counselling for Ontario Drug Benefit Program recipients.

The program includes an initial readiness assessment where a patient may enrol in the smoking cessation program with the pharmacy, a first consultation appointment and a number of follow-up counselling sessions over a one-year period. Talk to your community pharmacist. For more information go to MOHLTC - Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program 

Note: Not all community pharmacies are participating in this program. If you are not an Ontario Drug Benefit recipient:

  • A pharmacist can prescribe and dispense ZybanTM and ChampixTM to smokers interested in quitting smoking. Talk to your pharmacist to find out if ChampixTM or ZybanTM might be right for you.
  • You will have to pay for your prescription yourself. There is no coverage provided, unless it is through an employer extended health benefit plan. 
  • Ask your pharmacist if they provide smoking cessation counselling to non-Ontario Drug Benefit Program recipients (there may be a cost associated with this service).

The Medication Aids for Tobacco Cessation and Health (MATCH) Study

MATCH is an internet-based research study being conducted by the scientists at the Nicotine Dependence Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The purpose of this research study is to assess the real-world effectiveness of approved prescription-only smoking cessation medications, bupropion and varenicline.

  • The study will provide 12 weeks of either bupropion or varenicline for FREE to participants who meet study eligibility criteria. 
  • The study is open to residents of Ontario, 19 years or older, who wish to quit smoking within 30 days of receiving the assigned study medication. 
  • Interested smokers must have a valid email address which they check frequently in order to participate in the MATCH study.

To see if you are eligible to enrol in the MATCH Study, click here.

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