Compare all Stop Smoking treatments

We know that smoking isn’t good for our health. So if you’re at the point when you want to quit smoking for good, you should know that you don’t have to go it alone.

Active ingredient
Available doses
Form
Lasts for
Made/marketed by
Pharmacy status
Prices starting at
Works in

Champix

Varenicline

Champix is a stop smoking treatment that takes the edge off cravings. It can help you get through the worst of those early withdrawal symptoms.

See treatments  
Varenicline
0.5mg, 1mg
Tablets
N/A
Pfizer
Prescription
N/A
N/A
Zyban

Zyban

Buproprion

Slow-release tablet that gives you steady support with cravings. Nine week course.

See treatments  
Bupropion
150mg
Prolonged release tablets
N/A
GlaxoSmithKline
Prescription
$212
N/A

Prices from au.treated.com for the lowest quantity available. Delivery and consultation is included.

For more detailed info on side effects and how to take them, refer to the leaflet that comes with the medication.

Is stop smoking treatment right for me?

Play Video
This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

You may be wondering what is the best way to stop smoking. Champix and Zyban are two popular non-nicotine prescription medications for supporting people who want to give up smoking. However, while they can both help you to quit smoking for good, they work in different ways. Here we take a look at the differences between them, whether they are as effective as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and which, if either is right for you. 

Varenicline vs bupropion: how to choose smoking cessation medication

Nicotine replacement therapy is usually the first line of treatment recommended for people who want to quit smoking. However, it is not always effective as a standalone treatment and some patients are recommended to try prescription smoking cessation medication instead of or alongside their chosen nicotine replacement therapy. Champix and Zyban both do the same job, but that’s where their similarities end.

Champix is manufactured by Pfizer, and the drug was approved and released as a smoking cessation medication in 2006. The active ingredient is varenicline tartrate. In comparison, Zyban has been around much longer. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and was released as a stop smoking medication back in 1997. However, it was first developed as an antidepressant in the 1980s, owing to the active ingredient in Zyban being bupropion, which has antidepressant qualities.

What are the different types of stop smoking medication?

There are primarily two different types of treatment to help stop smoking. These are nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and prescription medication. Since there are generally fewer side effects associated with NRT, this is usually the first recommendation of any doctor or smoking cessation service.

Nicotine replacement therapy focuses on providing a very low dose of nicotine that doesn’t contain the harmful chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke. Meanwhile, oral stop smoking medications alter chemicals in your brain to reduce the cravings that occur when withdrawing from nicotine. Some also inhibit the reward system in the brain that causes the desire to smoke.

  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Prescription medication

Nicotine replacement therapy is widely available from both doctors, smoking cessation services and over the counter in shops and pharmacies. There is a selection of different products to choose from, including skin patches, chewing gum, inhalators, tablets, oral strips, lozenges and nasal and mouth sprays making it simple to find one which suits you best. Many people find that using a combination of NRT products is the best way to quit smoking long term.

Prescription medication for stopping smoking is only available from your doctor or an NHS stop smoking service. This is because these medications can cause side effects, and you will need to be assessed for your suitability for them before they can be prescribed. You will also be monitored for the duration of the time that you take them. There are two prescription medications that can be used to stop smoking. These are Champix and Zyban, which are both available as orally-taken tablets.

Varenicline (Champix)

Champix is one of the best known brands of stopping smoking medication. The active ingredient in Champix is varenicline and you will not be able to take this medication if you are allergic to varenicline or any of the other ingredients of Champix. Varenicline is not recommended for people under the age of 18, who are pregnant or breastfeeding or who have severe kidney problems.

Champix works by relieving the craving and withdrawal symptoms that are associated with quitting smoking, it does this by stimulating the nicotine receptors to mimic receiving nicotine. It also reduces the enjoyment of smoking by blocking reward signals from the brain that are released when you inhale nicotine. This means that it could be effective for those who take particular enjoyment from the habit, such as people who only smoke socially.

What are the pros and cons of varenicline?

Varenicline is only available on prescription, meaning that you will need an appointment with your doctor, or an NHS stop smoking service to receive it. A course of varenicline lasts around 12 weeks, which is longer than a course of bupropion, after which time you will need to be reviewed. It may be possible for you to continue with treatment beyond the 12 weeks if necessary.

The biggest advantage of varenicline is that the risk of side effects isn’t as high as it is with bupropion. The longer treatment course also means that your quit attempt could be more successful than after a single course of bupropion.

Bupropion (Zyban)

Zyban is a popular brand of anti-smoking medication. The active ingredient is bupropion. Although originally an antidepressant, bupropion has been shown to be effective at helping people to quit smoking. Exactly how it does this isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought to prevent the absorption of dopamine and noradrenaline – two chemicals that act as stimulants and pleasure-enhancers. This helps to reduce the feeling of pleasure experienced when smoking, thereby helping to curb the desire to do so.

Zyban is not recommended for people under the age of 18, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or people with epilepsy, bipolar disorder or eating disorders.

What are the pros and cons of bupropion?

Bupropion is only available on prescription from your doctor or NHS stop smoking service. Treatment courses are usually only around 7-9 weeks long, meaning that you may need more than one to quit smoking.

There is a higher risk of side effects, and patients will need to have their blood pressure monitored during the course of their treatment. However, it is less expensive than varenicline and some consider the side effects of bupropion less severe than those associated with varenicline.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is considered the best way to stop smoking by many ex-smokers. The treatment consists of a range of different products that are designed to provide a small amount of nicotine – enough to curb cravings and lessen the effects of withdrawal – but without the carbon monoxide, tar and other chemicals found in tobacco smoke. NRT products include:

Nicotine patches

Nicotine patches are attached to your skin in the same way as a plaster, and deliver a small, constant supply of nicotine through your skin and into your bloodstream. This slow release reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making you less likely to smoke. They are very discreet and can be worn under clothing.

Nicotine gum

Nicotine gum works by releasing small amounts of nicotine into your mouth as you chew. You then hold the chewing gum between your cheek and gums and the nicotine passes into your bloodstream, providing the hit that you need to keep cravings at bay. Patients are usually advised to chew a piece of gum every 1 to 2 hours for up to six weeks.

Nicotine lozenges

Nicotine lozenges work in a similar way to gum. Patients let the lozenge dissolve slowly in the mouth where nicotine will be released into the bloodstream. It’s essential that you use the lozenges exactly as directed as having too few will prove ineffective, and too many can cause side effects.

Nicotine nasal spray

Nicotine spray is directed into the nose. Once administered, the nicotine passes through the soft lining inside your nose and into your bloodstream. This curbs your cravings and helps to break the habit of smoking.

Nicotine inhaler

Nicotine inhalators provide an instant hit of nicotine that makes them particularly effective for counteracting sudden cravings. Inhalators look a little like plastic cigarettes and contain 15mg of nicotine which is absorbed through the lining of your mouth.

What are the pros and cons of NRT?

One of the biggest advantages of nicotine replacement therapy is that it can be used by the majority of patients, including those under 18 but over the age of 12 (with the exception of lozenges which could only be given after obtaining medical advice). Pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised to avoid NRT. It is also readily available on the NHS meaning that you can get most products free of charge from your doctor or NHS stop smoking service. The side effects of NRT are largely less serious than prescription medications too.

The only real disadvantages of NRT are that it doesn’t actually lessen the enjoyment of smoking and it still involves the absorption of nicotine, albeit at much smaller doses.

What’s the best way to give up smoking?

There’s no single best way for a heavy smoker to quit. There’s no best way for a social smoker to quit either. Ultimately, what works for one person may not work for another and the treatment that you choose might not be successful right away either. In fact, it can take several attempts or more before you are successful in completely giving up smoking so don’t be disheartened if you don’t manage to quit the first time round. Persistence is key, as is being open to trying different treatments to help you to stop smoking once and for all.

If you are struggling with your quit attempt, you can always contact one of our experts who can offer support and advice.

Get help finding the right stop smoking treatment

If you are ready to stop smoking for good but you aren’t sure which products or medications will be best to help you kick the habit, our experts can help you. We offer a range of stop smoking treatments and we can be on hand to help guide you through the process.

Reference Popover #ref1
Reference Popover #ref2
Reference Popover #ref3

Choose how you do healthcare.

We know health, but you know you.
Our experts tell you what’s safe, but you decide what’s best.

1consult-on-your-own-time

Consult on your own time

Answer a few questions and tell us about yourself. Get tailored advice from our clinicians so you can choose better.

2treatments-to-fityour-life

Treatments to fit your life

Choose your treatment and how often you have it delivered.

3Your health-continued

Your health, continued

We know things change. It’s the nature of life. We’ll check in regularly to make sure your treatment is still right for you.

4Control at your fingertips

Control at your fingertips

Pause. Change. Skip. Start again. Any time you like.

How are we doing?

Fast, efficient and speedy service. Would recommend!

My second time using your invaluable service. Efficient, effective and value for money. Thank you.

Treated have been a life saver for me. HRT provider 5 *. Promot and efficient personal service. Thank you once again. 😊

Very thorough and very helpful.

Excellent service ,easy to order and next day delivery , definitely recommend this company

Superb service, very quick and efficient. Wouldn’t use another company.

4.8

Our average rating based on 3254 reviews.

Give us the inbox treatment.

We're making healthcare more about you. Sign up to our newsletter for personalised health articles that make a difference.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.

Add a treatment to compare.

Suggest a treatment

If there’s a particular treatment or condition you’re looking for, tell us and we’ll look into it for you.

Ask or suggest something.

Submit your question here, or tell us if you’ve found an issue on our site.

We may email you about your query, but you can opt out of these communications any time you like.
4.8

Our average rating based on 3254 reviews.

Tell us about a problem

I accept the terms of use.
We may email you about the problem, but you can opt out of these communications any time you like.

What did you like about it?

What didn't you like about it?

We’ll get back to you very soon. We aim to respond to all queries in one working day.

You’re signed up to our newsletter. Keep an eye on your inbox for our latest update.

news-letter

Sign up to our newsletter for all the latest on Stop Smoking and more.

By clicking 'Subscribe now' you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy.

Is this your first time with us?

You can continue as a guest, or sign in with your Treated account if you have one. 

4.8

Our average rating based on 3254 reviews.