Champix (varenicline) is a medication specifically designed to help smokers quit. Champix is the single most effective medication for quitting smoking and more than doubles the chance of quitting successfully compared to sugar pills. It is also 60% more effective than nicotine patches or Zyban.
Champix works in the brain by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms after quitting. It also reduces the enjoyment of a cigarette if you are tempted to smoke. It is not addictive or habit forming.
Champix has the added advantage of reducing alcohol cravings and alcohol intake so it is very useful for heavy drinking smokers who wish to cut down. However it is not officially approved for that purpose yet. It is also especially effective for women who smoke, much more so than other therapies.
How to take Champix
The first (Initiation) pack contains both 0.5mg (white) tablets and 1mg (blue) tablets and lasts a month. The second (Continuation) pack has only 1mg tablets and lasts 2 months (112 tablets). Swallow the tablet whole with a meal or a full glass of water.
Gradually increase the dose over the first week to help your body get used to it as follows:
Quitting cigarettes is usually advised in the second week (days 8-14) however it can be delayed for up to several weeks if you are not ready. Champix can be safely taken while still smoking.
How long to take Champix
It is important to take Champix for the full 12 week course to get the best results.
If you are still not smoking at the end of the 12 week course, a second PBS-subsidised 12-week course can be taken to help prevent relapse during this time (Completion pack).
If you fail to quit this time but would like to try again, you can get a further PBS-subsidised course, but you need to wait 6 months after the original subscription.
Side effects are usually mild.
Availability and cost
Champix is available by prescription on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at a subsidised rate. The cost for pensioners and Health Care Card Holders is $6.20 per month and $38.30 for others.
If you relapse after quitting with Champix, you can get a second subsidised course after 6 months, and try again.
Click here to download a detailed product information sheet.
Last Modified: 21-07-2016