For many people, medication can be the key to getting through those first weeks or months without cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved seven medications to help smokers quit. Five help you manage withdrawal symptoms and urges by providing small amounts of nicotine. The other two options are the prescription drugs bupropion (Zyban® and Wellbutrin®) and varenicline (Chantix®). Research shows that taking either bupropion or varenicline also helps reduce cravings for cigarettes.

Be sure to speak with your health care provider about how medication can help you in your efforts to quit. Some smoking cessation medications are available at your local pharmacy without a prescription; others must be prescribed by a doctor. (Note: These medications may be available in generic or brand-name form.)

Smoking Cessation Medications

Type Form Some brand names Availability
Nicotine Replacement Therapies Gum Nicorette® Over-the-counter (OTC)
Patch Nicoderm®, Habitrol®, Prostep®, Nicotrol® OTC and prescription
Inhaler Nicotrol® Prescription
Nasal Spray Nicotrol® Prescription
Lozenge Commit® OTC
Bupropion Pill Zyban®, Wellbutrin® Prescription
Varenicline Pill Chantix® Prescription

Adapted from and includes additional information from

According to the National Institutes of Health, using one of these scientifically-tested treatments could double your chances of quitting smoking.9 Experts now say that all smokers trying to quit should think about using medication, especially those who smoke ten or more cigarettes a day. 10

All of these FDA-approved methods have been found to be safe and effective when used as directed. 11Of course, any medication can cause side effects.

For more information on the side effects or safety of smoking cessation medications, visit the website of the medication's maker or the website's Safety section .

Before you start, read the instructions carefully. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, if you have any questions about how to use your medication. It's especially important to talk with your doctor before you use quit-smoking medications—including nonprescription ones—if you are under age 18, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a medical condition. 12 You may be able to use medication (under a doctor's supervision) even if you have a health problem. For example, the patch has been shown to be safe for many people with heart disease. 13

Most medications are recommended for use for between two to six months. If you feel you need more help to stay quit, you may use medication for a longer time with your doctor's approval.

For more information on how to use medications, go to the My Clear Horizon website's Getting Ready section and click on "If You're Going to Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy or Zyban®."

If you decide to use a medication in your efforts to quit smoking, be sure to read carefully and follow the labeling instructions that come with the medication. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. These medications can cause side effects. Additional information is available from public health authorities, such as the National Cancer Institute of the Department of Health and Human Services. This information is not an endorsement of any brand or any product by PM USA.

9: National Cancer Institute, NIH publication no. 03-1647: "Clearing the Air: Quit Smoking Today." September 2003, p. 18.
10: A clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence: A U.S. Public Health Service Report. Journal of the American Medical Association, 283(24), June 28, 2000, p. 3244-3254.
11: Dunston A, August 2003. Kicking Butts in the Twenty-First Century: What modern science has learned about smoking cessation, New York: American Council on Science and Health, p. 15.
12: Fiore MC, Hatsukami DK, Baker TB: Effective tobacco dependence treatment. JAMA, 288(14), October 9, 2002, p. 1768-1771.
13: A clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence: A U.S. Public Health Service Report. JAMA, 283(24), June 28, 2000, p. 3244-3254.