Safety Concerns and Side Effects of Chantix

Man taking a pill, holding a glass

BSIP / UIG / Getty Images

Chantix is a smoking cessation medication. In the years since its introduction, a number of serious concerns about side effects that involve changes in mood and behavior have surfaced.

Common Side Effects of Chantix

Typical Chantix side effects include:

  • Nausea (30%)
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Disruptions in dream patterns

People who report this set of symptoms often feel that the advantages outweigh the discomforts associated with Chantix.

Less Common, Serious Side Effects of Chantix

Chantix works by altering brain chemistry, and as such, carries a set of risk factors that involve changes in mood and behavior.

If you have been diagnosed with depression or any other mental health condition, it is very important to carefully review, with the help of your doctor, whether Chantix is a good fit for you.

Safety information from the Chantix website:

Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using CHANTIX to help them quit smoking. Some people had these symptoms when they began taking CHANTIX, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment or after stopping CHANTIX. If you, your family, or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, stop taking CHANTIX and call your doctor right away. Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems bef ore taking CHANTIX, as these symptoms may worsen while taking CHANTIX.

In May of 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned pilots and air traffic controllers from using this drug while on the job.

On July 1, 2009, the FDA mandated that the manufacturers of Chantix, Zyban, and Wellbutrin carry a new Boxed Warning on product labels that inform health care providers and the public of the potential risks associated with the use of these drugs. Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride) is a non-nicotine prescription quit aid similar to Chantix. Wellbutrin is bupropion that is marketed as an anti-depressant.

The FDA issued a public health advisory as well:

People who are taking Chantix or Zyban and experience any serious and unusual changes in mood or behavior or who feel like hurting themselves or someone else should stop taking the medicine and call their healthcare professional right away. Friends or family members who notice these changes in behavior in someone who is taking Chantix or Zyban for smoking cessation should tell the person their concerns and recommend that he or she stop taking the drug and call a health care professional right away.

On June 16, 2011, the FDA issued a public health advisory about a possible increase in the risk of certain cardiovascular events for people with pre-existing heart disease using Chantix.

In light of the potentially serious side effects of Chantix, one might ask whether this form of drug therapy is appropriate for anyone to use.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.


Some people have experienced seizures, usually during the first month of Chantix therapy. If this happens to you, stop using Chantix and get in touch with your doctor immediately.

Allergic Reactions

Chantix may cause an allergic reaction in some people that can sometimes be life-threatening. Allergic reactions can include:

  • skin rash /redness
  • peeling of the skin
  • swelling of the face, mouth, throat
  • blisters on the inside of the mouth

While rare, if any of the reactions above happen to you, stop taking Chantix and get medical attention immediately.

The Bottom Line

Both Chantix and Zyban are in a class of quit aids that alter brain chemistry, and that has the potential to cause serious side effects for some people. This is why they are prescription medicines. You should have a doctor involved in your care if you're using one of these medications.

That said, the fact that Chantix and Zyban are still on the market speaks to the good that these quit aids are doing. With a person dying a tobacco-related death every 8 seconds somewhere in the world, day in and day out, 365 days a year, we can safely say that tobacco use is the grand-daddy of all risks that smokers should be concerned with.

Tobacco is a vicious killer in sheep's clothing and is directly responsible for upwards of 5 million deaths worldwide each year. If current trends continue unchanged, estimates put death by tobacco at 8 million annually by 2030.

If you happen to be in the group of people who should not use Chantix or Zyban, there are many other products available to help you quit smoking.

The absolute best quit aid and one that is a mandatory ingredient for long-term success with smoking cessation is your determination to quit smoking. With it, any quit aid of your choosing will work. Without it, none will.

The quit-smoking toolbox gives you links to information and the support necessary to build a solid quit smoking program for yourself.

You can quit smoking. Believe in yourself and the sky is the limit.

Was this page helpful?