The B.C. government's plan to help people kick the smoking habit is smoking hot.

More than 300 prescriptions were filled within a nine-hour period on Friday, the first day of the program, said B.C. Premier Christy Clark. There were reports of smokers who couldn't get through to government phone lines to register.

The province is picking up the cost of free nicotine gum or nicotine patches, while prescription smoking cessation drugs will be covered by Pharmacare.

Clark says she's proud of the plan and knows how tough it can be to quit because she stopped cold turkey after 17 years of smoking.

Participants must register with HealthLink B.C. to be eligible for up to 12 consecutive weeks of prescription drugs or nicotine replacement therapy annually.

The program is estimated to cost $15 million to $25 million,