Nicotine Replacement Products

Nicotine replacement products are one type of smoking cessation product.

Designed to wean your body off cigarettes, they supply you with nicotine in controlled amounts while sparing you from other chemicals found in tobacco products.

Nicotine patch may be combined with other nicotine replacement products (gum, nasal spray, inhaler) or with Bupropion SR pills.

As you go about quitting smoking, you may experience symptoms of nicotine craving and withdrawal. These symptoms—which include an urge to smoke, depression, trouble sleeping, irritability, anxiety, and increased appetite—may occur no matter which method of stopping you choose.

Nicotine replacement products should be used for a short time to help you deal with nicotine craving and withdrawal.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter nicotine replacement products are available without a prescription. These include the following:

Nicotine Patch (Nicoderm CQ®)

  • Placed on the skin to supply a small controlled amount of nicotine to the body.
  • Helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and urges to smoke.
  • Available over the counter; can be used the day you buy them.
  • For most people, no need to talk to a health care provider before using.

Nicotine Gum (Nicorette®)

  • Chewed to release nicotine that gets absorbed through tissue inside the mouth.
  • Helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and urges to smoke.
  • Available over the counter; can be used the day you buy it.
  • For most people, no need to talk to a health care provider before using.

Nicotine Lozenge (Nicorette®)

  • Looks like hard candy; placed in the mouth where it slowly dissolves, releasing nicotine.
  • Helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and urges to smoke.
  • Available over the counter; can be used the day you buy them.
  • For most people, no need to talk to a health care provider before using.

Prescription Medications

Prescription-only nicotine replacement products are available under the brand name Nicotrol and are available both as a nasal spray and an oral inhaler.

Nicotine Inhaler (Nicotrol® Inhaler)

  • Cartridge attached to a mouthpiece that delivers a specific amount of nicotine to the user with each puff.
  • Helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and urges to smoke.
  • Available only from your doctor.
  • You’ll need to schedule an appointment to get a prescription before you can use it to quit smoking.

Nicotine Nasal Spray (Nicotrol®)

  • Pump bottle inserted into the nose and sprayed to deliver a specific amount of nicotine to the user with each spray.
  • Helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and urges to smoke.
  • Available only from your doctor.
  • You’ll need to schedule an appointment to get a prescription before you can use it to quit smoking.

Key points to consider before beginning a nicotine replacement therapy.

  • Don’t use any other product containing nicotine while using a nicotine replacement product.
  • You should stop using a nicotine replacement product and call your health care professional if you experience nausea, dizziness, weakness, vomiting, fast or irregular heartbeat, mouth problems with the lozenge or gum, or redness or swelling of the skin around the patch that does not go away.
  • Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should use these products only with approval from their health care professional.
  • Talk to your health care professional before using these products if you have diabetes, heart disease, asthma, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, had a recent heart attack or a history of irregular heartbeats.
  • If you take prescription medication for depression or asthma, let your health care professional know if you are quitting smoking; your prescription dose may need to be adjusted.

If you are under 18 years of age and want to quit smoking, you should talk to a health care professional about the potential for using nicotine replacement therapies.


Reference: National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Last updated May 2017

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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