Tips for a New Year: Quit-Smoking Medicines

Maybe you’ve already used a quit-smoking medicine when you tried to quit. Or maybe you’ve just thought about it. Either way, you can learn more here about quit-smoking medicines and how they can help you quit for good.

The quit-smoking medicines listed are approved by the FDA for adults to use to quit cigarettes. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or younger than 18, you should not use these medicines without talking to your doctor. If you use tobacco products other than cigarettes (like cigars, chew, snuff, hookah, or e-cigarettes), talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider, or call the quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) to get help with quitting. All the ways to use medicines presented here are reviewed in Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General (Chapter 6)pdf icon. Some of the ways have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.

There are seven U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medicines for adults to use when quitting smoking.

  • In five of these medicines, nicotine is the active ingredient. Nicotine is the main addictive drug in tobacco that makes quitting so hard. The medicines with nicotine are called nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs). They include the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenge, nicotine nasal spray, and nicotine inhaler.
  • Two pill medicines (varenicline and bupropion) do not contain nicotine and help people stop smoking in other ways. For example, varenicline attaches to the same parts of the brain as nicotine, reducing the urge to smoke. Varenicline also makes cigarette smoking less pleasurable by blocking some of nicotine’s effects.

 New Ways to Quit With Medicines

One non-nicotine medicine is especially effective.

Varenicline is a pill that works differently from other medicines. It does not contain nicotine. It works by attaching to the same parts of your brain that are stimulated by nicotine. This means that nicotine from a cigarette has fewer places to attach because the varenicline is already there. This makes it harder to get a nicotine “buzz.”
There are many ways to get help quitting:
✓ Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

When you call a quitline, you will be connected to a quit coach who has been trained to provide you with the best quitting tips and tools, and to listen to and support you. Best of all, it’s free, and sometimes quit coaches can help you get free quitting medications as well. Here are 5 reasons calling a quitline can be key to success.

✓ Talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Your doctor will be glad to hear you are interested in quitting. You can ask them for encouragement, suggestions, prescriptions if needed, and referral to other support resources. They can also share with you how quitting smoking will dramatically benefit your health.

✓ Check out free web, texting and app programs.

Enrolling in a texting programexternal icon, downloading an app, or using a website designed to support quittingexternal icon can help you succeed. The web pages you are using now are another example. Many quitlines offer similar services.

✓ Find a class or one-on-one counseling.

Group classes and one-on-one counseling may be available in your community and can help with quitting. You can check with your doctor or another healthcare professional, your health insurer, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW and ask about local resources.


  • Reduces your urge to smoke and enjoyment of cigarettes.
  • Gives you the strongest chance for success of any single medicine.
  • Is started a week or more before you quit smoking.

4) Get quit-smoking medicines for free or reduced cost

  • If you have health insurance:

    • Most health insurance plans cover FDA-approved quit-smoking medicines, including over- the-counter medicines.
    • Even if you want to use an over-the-counter medicine, you may need to get a prescription from your doctor in order to have your insurer cover it.
    • If you aren’t sure how to get them for free or reduced cost, talk to your pharmacist or call the number on your insurance card. You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW where a quit coach can help you connect with quit-smoking medicines.

    If you don’t have health insurance:

    • Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to ask about free or reduced-cost quit medicines.
    • Quit coaches can help connect you with quit-smoking medicines through community programs. Some states have special programs for people who smoke and don’t have health insurance.
    • They may also be able to provide you with free medicines directly, for example by sending some nicotine patches, lozenges, or gum to your home.
    • Try shopping around or using discount coupons. You may be able to buy nicotine patches, for example, for much less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes!
    • Look online or ask your pharmacist if they know about any discount programs you may be eligible for.
    • Once you quit, you’ll save the money you used to spend on cigarettes!



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