champix_1_web.jpgChampix (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

Side effects are usually mild.

  • Nausea. Up to 30% of people get nausea from Champix. Nausea is usually mild-moderate and tends to settle over time. It can be reduced by increasing the dose more slowly, taking the tablet with food (preferably a full meal) or a full glass of water, reducing the dose or taking anti-nausea medication. If nausea is still a problem, a slower increase in the dose will often help.
  • Insomnia, abnormal dreams
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache; constipation; dizziness; flatulence
  • Mood or behaviour changes. Some people have reported feeling depressed, agitated or even suicidal when taking Champix, however there is no evidence that Champix causes these symptoms and they can be caused by stopping smoking itself. It is recommended to monitor your mood or behaviour while on Champix. A relative or friend may notice these changes first and should report them promptly. Click here and here for more.


  • Take care when driving or operating machinery until you know how Champix affects you
  • Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • There may be a slightly increased risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke while taking Champix. If there is any risk, it is likely to be small and is outweighed by the immediate and substantial health benefits of quitting. Click here for more on the cardiovascular safety of Champix.
  • A small number of seizures have been reported in patients taking Champix. It is not known if Champix is the cause of the seizures. The risk may be greater in patients with epilepsy.
  • There have been a small number of reports fo patient taking Champix becoming more intoxicated from alcohol, sometimes with aggressive behaviour or amnesia. It is not known if Champix is the cause of this effect. Patients are advised to reduce their alcohol intake while taking Champix.

Notify me

  • Persistent or severe nausea
  • Any unusual change in your mood or behaviour or if you have any thoughts of harming yourself.
  • New or worsening symptoms of cardiovascular disease e.g. chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in the legs when walking
  • An allergic reaction, such as a rash, swelling of the face or wheeze


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.

pdf_icon_30px.jpgClick here to download a detailed product information sheet.



Last Modified: 31-05-2017