Stop smoking medication

Stop smoking medications make quitting easier by reducing cigarette withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Learn more about stop smoking medicines

What are stop smoking medicines?

There are a range of medicines, available over-the-counter and via prescription, that can help you quit smoking. Most stop smoking medicines help you deal with withdrawal symptoms that many people experience when they quit smoking such as restlessness, anxiety and frustration.

These medicines can significantly increase your chances of quitting and work best if you’re fully committed to quitting.

Varenicline (Champix)

Varenicline (brand name Champix) is a medicine specially developed to help people quit smoking. It works in two ways:

  • Reducing nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Reducing the rewarding effects of smoking

 


How to use it?

  • You should start taking Champix 1-2 weeks before you try to quit smoking.
  • Champix is taken as a tablet, 1 to 2 tablets a day, with or without food.
  • Treatment typically takes 12 weeks but can be extended if needed.

 


Who can use it?

Champix can only be taken by most adults aged 18 and over.

Check with your doctor before using if you:

  • Have kidney problems
  • Have a mental health condition
  • Have problems with your heart
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have had an allergic reaction to Champix or any other medicine

Did you know?

You’re 3 times more likely to quit smoking when using stop smoking medications alongside support from an NHS stop smoking service.

Bupropion (Zyban)

Bupropion (brand name Zyban) is a medicine originally created to treat depression which has been found to be highly effective at helping people quit smoking.

It works by:

  • Reducing your urge to smoke
  • Reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms

 


How to use it?

  • You should start taking Zyban 1-2 weeks before you try to quit smoking.
  • Zyban is taken as a tablet, 1 to 2 tablets a day, with or without food.
  • Treatment typically takes 7-9 weeks.

 


Who can use it?

Most adults aged 18 and over can use Bupropion (Zyban).

It’s not suitable for those who:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have epilepsy, an eating disorder or bipolar disorder

Check with your doctor before using if you:

  • You have liver or kidney disease
  • You have a higher risk of fits

Did you know?

You should be able to get stop smoking medications either for free, or for the cost of a prescription, from your local NHS Stop Smoking Service or your GP.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine Replacement Therapy or NRT for short, is the name for a group of stop smoking medicines that provide your body with a low dose of nicotine to help you quit smoking.

It works by:

  • Reducing cravings for nicotine
  • Alleviating nicotine withdrawal symptoms

 


How to use it?

NRT can be taken in lots of different forms, so how you use it depends on the type you choose. For example, patches are worn for 12 or 24 hours, while gum is chewed when cravings strike.

 


Who can use it?

Most adults and children over 12 can use NRT.

Check with your doctor before using if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have kidney or liver problems
  • Have recently had a heart attack or stroke

Children under 18 should seek medical advice before using nicotine lozenges.

Did you know?

You can use different stop smoking medications together, for example, Champix and NRT, which is known as Combination Therapy.

Which medicine is best for quitting smoking?

Research has shown that all these stop smoking medicines can be effective. Which one suits you will depend on personal preference, age, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and any medical conditions you have. The best way to find out is to speak to a specialist, stop smoking advisor or your doctor.

Visit our Stop Smoking Services page for more information