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Ministry of Health
B.C. Smoking Cessation Program

If You Tried to Quit but Start Using Tobacco Again

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It often takes more than one attempt to stop smoking or using tobacco. That is why you can take part in the B.C. Smoking Cessation Program more than once.

I tried a smoking cessation prescription drug, but it didn’t work. I still crave tobacco. Can I get free nicotine gum or patches now?

That depends.

  • If you paid for the entire cost of the prescription drug, you can get a free 12- week course of treatment with nicotine gum or patches.
  • If you paid for part of the prescription’s cost and PharmaCare covered the other part, you won’t be able to get the free nicotine gum or patches right away. You will be able to get a free 12-week course of treatment in the next calendar year.
  • If PharmaCare covered the full cost of the prescription, you won’t be able to get free nicotine gum or patches right away. You will be able to get a free 12-week course of treatment in the next calendar year.

Under exceptional and compelling circumstances, PharmaCare may cover a course of nicotine gum or patches in the same calendar year. Your doctor will need to send a Special Authority request to PharmaCare to ask for additional coverage on your behalf. Requests are evaluated on an exceptional case-by-case basis.

I tried the nicotine gum or patches but they didn’t work. Can I try a prescription drug and have PharmaCare cover its cost?

Not this year. You would have to pay for the prescription drug for the remainder of this year.

Under exceptional and compelling circumstances, PharmaCare may cover a course of prescription drugs in the same calendar year. Your doctor will need to send a Special Authority request to PharmaCare to ask for additional coverage on your behalf. Requests are evaluated on an exceptional case-by-case basis.

What if I start using tobacco again? Can I re-register for the program?

Yes, but you may have to wait until the next calendar year to do so.

If you started using tobacco again in the same year as you completed a 12-week course of treatment, you will have to wait until January 1 of the following year before you can start a new course.

You will have to re-register for each new course of treatment:

  • if you want to take prescription drugs, you will have to visit your doctor and get a prescription
  • if you want to take nicotine gum or patches, you will have to register for the nicotine replacement therapy program with HealthLink BC at 8-1-1

How many times can I take part in the program?

You can take part in the smoking cessation program more than once over the years. However, you can only get one course of treatment per calendar year and you must meet the eligibility criteria every year.