How Nicotine Replacement Products Can Help You Stop Smoking

Non-prescription solutions help reduce nicotine cravings so you can quit smoking

Credit: Flickr / Nicole Atherton

A nicotine replacement inhaler can help you quit smoking

Nicotine replacement products like gum, lozenges, patches and inhalers will reduce your cravings

Smokers who’ve resolved to kick their tobacco habit this year may want to consider using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products to help them achieve their goal. These non-prescription products, available in patch, gum, lozenge or inhaler form, reduce nicotine cravings, potentially increasing the chances of quitting.

NRT products help treat tobacco dependence by acting as substitutes for the nicotine that would be inhaled through smoking, thereby reducing withdrawal symptoms. These products work best when used as part of a comprehensive smoking cessation program.

Types of Nicotine Replacement Therapy Products

The nicotine patch, which can be worn on the skin for 24 hours at a time or removed at bedtime, works by slowly releasing about the same amount of nicotine a smoker would normally inhale in a day.

Nicotine gum can be chewed whenever a person craves nicotine. Smokers are instructed to chew once or twice, and then rest the gum between their cheek and gums for about a minute and then repeat. Nicotine lozenges also allow smokers to receive nicotine when needed.

Inhalers are another nicotine-delivery system, involving a similar hand-to-mouth ritual as smoking.

Nicorette nasal spray to quit smoking
Nicotine replacement spray by Nicorette. (IMAGE: Flickr / easylocum)

Talk to Your Doctor when Planning to Quit Smoking

Common side effects of NRT include nausea, headaches, light-headedness, sweating, trouble sleeping, stomach problems and vivid dreams. Some patch users experience mild itching, burning and tingling at first, while those who use gum or lozenges might have increased salivation or bleeding gums. The inhaler can lead to short-term irritation of the mouth or throat, and coughing.

Nicotine is a drug that can have implications for people who are under age 18, pregnant or breastfeeding, or who are living with specific health conditions, which is why anyone contemplating NRT should first consult their doctor.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.