Your Trusted Source for Information on Health


Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine Replacement Products

      With the exception of Zyban, the majority of smoking cessation products are categorized as nicotine replacement products. These products deliver small, steady doses of nicotine into the body, with a goal to relieve nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Although these products deliver nicotine into the bloodstream, they do not contain the tar, poisons and carbon monoxide that are primarily responsible for the profound health effects caused by cigarette smoking. Research has demonstrated that the success rates for quitting smoking doubles when a smoker uses smoking cessation products to help them quit.

There are four types of nicotine replacement products: nicotine patches, nicotine gum, nasal spray and nicotine inhalers.

Nicotine Patch

Called the nicotine transdermal system, this method of smoking cessation was first available in the U.S. in 1992 by prescription only, and in 1996 became available as an over the counter product. Brand names of these stop smoking patches patches include Nicoderm, Nicotrol and Habitrol. A new patch is applied every day to a different area of skin and is most often worn for a 24 hour period, unless otherwise indicated.

The nicotine patch is like a bandage applied to the skin and may cause a mild itching or burning sensation in the skin. This usually disappears within 60 minutes. If a skin rash, redness or swelling appears, a doctor should be consulted. The stop smoking patch can cause excessive irritation to those with allergies or other skin problems.

Nicotine Gum

Nicorette gum became available as prescription only in 1984, then was sold over the counter starting in 1996. Nicorette gum release nicotine into the bloodstream through the mouth after chewing. The chewing follows a structured course, and usually lasts for 30 minutes. The maximum recommended pieces of gum are between 20-30 per day; however, most people find that 10 or so pieces of gum a day successfully manages cravings.

Those suffering from temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ) or wearing dentures may have difficulty with this product.

Nicotine Inhalers

The Nicotrol nicotine inhalation system for smoking cessation became available in 1997. Nicotine enters the user's mouth through a mouthpiece that is attached to a plastic cartridge. The nicotine doesn't reach the lungs like cigarette smoke, but is almost entirely absorbed by the mouth.

The nicotine inhaler can cause cough or throat irritation, and those suffering from asthma or bronchitis should refrain from using these products.

Nicotine Nasal Spray

Nicotine nasal sprays entered the market in 1996 and are available by prescription only. The nicotine is inhaled into the nose from a pump bottle and is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal lining.

The nasal spray is not generally recommended for use for a period longer than 6 months. Sinus and nasal irritation can be unwanted side effects, and those suffering from asthma, allergies and sinus problems should refrain from using this product.


Serious risks can result if these products are not used according to instructions. The following safety pointers should be followed.

- Keep all nicotine replacement products out of reach of children and pets. This includes those that have been used and discarded. Very small amounts of nicotine can cause serious damage to children and animals.
- Don't smoke, chew tobacco or use any other products containing nicotine. It is possible to overdose on nicotine.
- Consult a doctor prior to using any nicotine replacement product if you have medical problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Consult a doctor if you are taking other medications, particularly those used to treat asthma or depression.
- Consult a doctor prior to using any nicotine replacement product if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Heavy smokers who are suffer from genuine nicotine addiction will often experience some nicotine withdrawal symptoms while using these products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer excellent information about smoking, tobacco use and smoking cessation resources. Quitnet is an excellent online aid for all aspects of quitting smoking.

Copyright 2003-2010 All Rights Reserved.
All images remain property of their respective owners.