It blocks the effects of nicotine and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it harder to get pleasure from smoking.
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Disclaimer: This information is only meant for educational purposes, and it not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For any specific questions or concerns, please talk to a doctor.


Varenicline (brand name Champix®) is only available by prescription from a doctor. It blocks the effects of nicotine and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. If you start smoking again while taking the medicine, you will not feel as satisfied. This improves your chances of quitting.


Varenicline works by changing the way the brain reacts to nicotine. It makes it harder to get pleasure from nicotine and also helps to reduce cravings by blocking the receptor in the brain that responds to nicotine. Other advantages include:

  • It is easy to use
  • It does not contain nicotine

How to Use

Varenicline is available as a pill that you take by mouth.

  • Start taking varenicline one week before you quit smoking. This builds up the level of medicine in your body
  • Continue to smoke as usual while taking varenicline until your quit date
  • The recommended dose of varenicline to help you quit smoking is:
  • Days 1-3: take one 0.5mg tablet once a day
  • Days 4-7: take one 0.5mg tablet twice a day, once in the morning and once at night
  • Day 8 to the end of treatment: take one 1mg tablet twice a day, once in the morning and once at night
  • Take varenicline after eating and with a full glass of water to decrease nausea and vomiting side effects

Common Side Effects

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gas and constipation
  • Insomnia and abnormal dreams
  • Headache
  • Mood and behavioural change

Warning and Precautions

As with any prescription medication, there are benefits and risks to taking varenicline. Health Canada has determined that for varenicline, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Heart or stroke events

Talk to your doctor if you have any changes in cardiovascular symptoms, including:

  • Chest discomfort for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or feeling lightheaded associated with chest discomfort

Get emergency medical help right away if you have symptoms of a stroke, including:

  • Weakness or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg even if temporary
  • Trouble speaking, even if temporary
  • Vision problems, even if temporary

Do not use if

  • Have an allergy to varenicline
  • Currently using nicotine replacement therapy (like gum or patch). The combination of taking both does not increase your chance of quitting and increases the likelihood of experiencing side effects
  • Less than 18 years old
  • You are pregnant

Speak to doctor or pharmacist

About whether varenicline is right for you if one of the following applies to you:

  • Depression or other mental health problems
  • Breast-feeding
  • Kidney problems
  • Currently taking medications such as insulin, theophylline, or warfarin

How to store

Stop taking if

  • Depressed mood
  • Agitation
  • Changes in behaviour that are not typical
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviour
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

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