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  • QuitSure Team

From Chantix to Zyban: Ranking the 7 FDA-Approved Quit Smoking Meds

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

The journey to quit smoking is akin to navigating through a dense forest – full of twists, turns, and an occasional clearing. Among the tools that can help illuminate this path are the 7 FDA Approved Tobacco Cessation Medications. However, not all of these are equally effective or suitable for every individual. Today, we aim to shed light on these tools, ranking them based on effectiveness, side effects, cost, and ease of use. But remember, as the old saying goes, the best tool is only as good as the craftsman wielding it. Quitting smoking ultimately depends on personal resolve.

The Road to Quitting Smoking: A Backdrop

Before we delve into the ranking, it's crucial to understand that smoking cessation is not just about nicotine dependence. It's about breaking patterns, changing behaviors, and rewiring brain circuits that have been conditioned to associate pleasure or stress relief with smoking. That's where these medications step in, offering a bridge to transition to a smoke-free life. Let's dive into the details.

1. Chantix (Varenicline): The Star Player with a Price Tag

At the forefront of the 7 FDA Approved Tobacco Cessation Medications is Chantix. This medication works by reducing the pleasurable effects of nicotine on the brain, thereby weakening the reinforcement loop that strengthens smoking behavior. It has been shown to significantly increase the chances of quitting successfully compared to a placebo.

However, Chantix is not without its drawbacks. Side effects such as nausea, sleep disturbances, and, in some rare cases, mood changes can dampen its appeal.⁽¹⁾ In addition, the cost factor cannot be ignored. Chantix is one of the pricier options out there, and for those without insurance coverage, it may not be a viable choice.

2. Zyban (Bupropion): The Antidepressant Turned Quit Aid

Next on the list is Zyban, an antidepressant that has found its calling in the world of tobacco cessation. Zyban operates on a different mechanism compared to Chantix. It helps dampen the intensity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, providing a smoother journey for individuals attempting to quit smoking.

However, Zyban, like Chantix, isn't a magic potion. It has its share of concerns. Those with certain medical conditions may experience seizures with Zyban, and its interactions with other antidepressants need to be carefully managed. While it's a handy tool in the quit smoking toolkit, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution.

3. Nicotine Patches: The Slow and Steady Support

The nicotine patch has long been a staple in the world of smoking cessation aids. Its function is simple: the patch releases a steady stream of nicotine into the bloodstream, thereby staving off the cravings that can often lead to relapses.

Yet, the patch is not a panacea. For some, the nicotine patch can cause skin irritation. In others, it may lead to sleep disturbances, particularly vivid dreams or insomnia. There's also a psychological factor at play – the patch doesn't provide the immediate gratification that a cigarette does, and resisting this urge requires a good dose of willpower.

4. Nicotine Gum: The Oral Substitute

Similar to nicotine patches, nicotine gum has been a stalwart in the smoking cessation space. Available over the counter, the gum can be a handy tool to manage sudden nicotine cravings. By offering a substitute oral activity, it also helps break the habitual hand-to-mouth cycle that is part of the smoking behavior.

However, it's not without its quirks. Some people may find the taste of nicotine gum off-putting, and improper use can lead to minor side effects like throat irritation and hiccups. Additionally, like the patch, the gum lacks the immediacy of a cigarette and requires willpower to fight against the immediate urge for a smoke.

5. Nicotine Lozenges: The "Suck It and See" Approach

Nicotine lozenges work similarly to nicotine gum, offering a discreet and portable solution to manage nicotine cravings on the go. They can be a beneficial aid for those who are apprehensive about using patches or inhalers, and like the gum, they offer a substitute oral activity to disrupt the habitual cycle of smoking.

But, as is the case with other nicotine replacement therapies, the lozenges aren't a magic bullet. They have side effects like heartburn, insomnia, and nausea, and they require motivation and commitment to resist the instant gratification offered by cigarettes.

6. Nicotine Inhalers and Nasal Sprays: The Direct Approach

Coming in at number six on our list are nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays. These prescription aids deliver nicotine directly to the nasal and pulmonary linings, mimicking the immediate hit that a cigarette offers.

Despite this, they aren't higher on the list for several reasons. They can cause side effects like throat and nasal irritation, coughing, and sneezing.⁽²⁾ They may also be more habit-forming than other nicotine replacement therapies, substituting one nicotine delivery device (the cigarette) with another.

7. Nicotine-free Prescription Medications: The Wild Cards

Last on our list are medications like nortriptyline and clonidine. While not first-line treatments for smoking cessation, these drugs are sometimes used off-label to aid the quit smoking journey.

However, they come with significant drawbacks. Both nortriptyline and clonidine have notable side effect profiles and interactions with other medications. Therefore, they are typically considered when other options haven't been successful or aren't suitable.

A Better Alternative: The QuitSure App

Even as we rank these 7 FDA Approved Tobacco Cessation Medications, it's essential to realize they are merely aids, and quitting smoking involves much more than just medicating away the cravings. It involves breaking habits, overcoming triggers, and creating a new non-smoking identity, a feat often easier said than done.

Enter QuitSure. Unlike conventional methods, QuitSure attacks the problem at its root, using the power of psychology to help rewire the brain and discard cravings from their roots. This easy-to-use app, backed by science, offers a personalized approach, recognizing that the journey to quit smoking is unique for everyone. With QuitSure, you get more than just a quick fix - you get a lifelong solution to a smoke-free future.


In the world of smoking cessation, there is no one-size-fits-all. Every journey is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another. The 7 FDA Approved Tobacco Cessation Medications offer a range of tools, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Yet, at the end of the day, the most crucial component in the quit smoking journey is you – your determination, your resilience, and your commitment to a smoke-free life. And with tools like QuitSure at your disposal, that journey becomes a little less daunting. Happy quitting!

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