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How Effective Is It?

Studies have shown varenicline to be effective in helping people stop smoking. One study evaluated whether people were still smoking during the last month of treatment (weeks 9 through 12). Up to 51 percent of people taking varenicline did not smoke at all during this time, compared to only 12 percent of those not taking the drug.
Two studies compared varenicline to Zyban® (bupropion SR), another smoking cessation medication. These studies also evaluated whether people were still smoking during weeks 9 through 12 of treatment. Up to 44 percent of those taking varenicline did not smoke during this period, compared to just 30 percent of those taking Zyban.
Even though varenicline was only used for 12 weeks, some of these studies observed people for an entire year to see if they started smoking again. Up to 23 percent of those who took the drug had quit and had not started again, compared to just 16 percent of those who took Zyban and only 8 percent of people who received no treatment.

When and How to Take Varenicline

General considerations for when and how to take the medication include the following:
  • The medication comes in tablet form. It is taken by mouth twice a day (although for the first three days, it is usually taken just once a day).
  • The medication is taken for 12 weeks. If you successfully stop smoking, your healthcare provider may recommend an additional 12 weeks of varenicline to decrease your chances of starting smoking again.
  • Varenicline should be taken with a full glass of water after eating.
  • You should set a "quit date" and start taking varenicline one week before this time to give the medicine a chance to start working before you try to quit. Alternatively, you can start taking varenicline and then quit sometime between days 8 and 35 of treatment.
  • It should be taken at the same times each day in order to maintain an even level in your blood.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Varenicline will not work if you stop taking it.
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