Stop smoking treatments
Some people find nicotine cravings the hardest thing to handle about quitting. Giving up smoking can cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which include cravings, headaches, feeling irritable and not being able to sleep. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage these withdrawal symptoms.
There are three main types of stop smoking medicines:
- Champix tablets (Varenicline)
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) including patches, gum, lozenges, microtabs, inhalator and nasal sprays
All of them are available from the NHS with a prescription, and Nicotine Replacement Therapy can also be bought from pharmacies without a prescription and other shops (such as supermarkets).
All are effective treatments to help you stop smoking, but you may find one suits you more than another. We recommend that you speak to your local stop smoking adviser or pharmacist for further advice.
Champix (Varenicline) are prescription-only nicotine-free pills that reduce your craving for tobacco and help with withdrawal symptoms. You set a date to stop smoking, and start taking tablets 1 or 2 weeks before this date. Treatment normally lasts for 12 weeks. Champix is only available to adults (aged 18 or over) on prescription and is not offered to pregnant women or to those who have some pre-existing conditions. Check with your specialist stop smoking adviser or health professional to find out more.
Zyban (Bupropion Hydrochloride) is a treatment which changes the way that your body responds to nicotine. You start taking Zyban one to two weeks before your quit day and treatment usually lasts for a couple of months to help you through the withdrawal cravings. It's only available on prescription and is not available if you are pregnant or if you have some pre-existing conditions. Discuss this treatment with your doctor or healthcare professional.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Some people think that using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is just swapping one addiction for another. But this isn't true. NRT does not contain tar, poisons or carbon monoxide like cigarettes do, so it’s very unlikely to cause cancer. It is absorbed into your body in a different way to the nicotine absorbed from cigarettes, and it is very much less addictive.
NRT is suitable for most adults, but if you have a heart or circulatory condition, or are on regular medication, you should check with your doctor. Similarly, if you are pregnant you should ask your doctor or midwife before using NRT. You can get a prescription for NRT or buy it over the counter.
Gum is available in two strengths: 2mg and 4mg. The 4mg gum is most appropriate for smokers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, or who are strongly addicted to nicotine.
When you use nicotine gum, the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of your mouth. When you first quit you should be chewing about one piece of gum every hour. To release the nicotine from the gum, chew until the taste becomes strong or hot. After this you can rest the gum inside your cheek. Once the taste or heat fades you will need to chew again to release more nicotine. Discard the gum once the taste from chewing has faded.
Nicotine patches work well for most regular smokers and can be worn round the clock (24 hour patches) or just during the day (16 hour patches). They provide a steady stream of nicotine to the body.
These are small tablets containing nicotine, which dissolve quickly under your tongue. Microtabs can be used by those who are trying to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, as well as those who have quit completely. Some people find that microtabs are more discreet than other oral products, as no chewing or sucking is required.
Nicotine lozenges work in a similar way to nicotine gum. To release the nicotine from the lozenge, suck until the taste becomes strong or hot. After this you can rest the lozenge inside your cheek - once the taste fades you will need to suck again to release more nicotine.
Suck until the lozenge has completely dissolved - each one should last 20 to 30 minutes.
Inhalators look like a plastic cigarette. The inhalator releases nicotine vapour which gets absorbed through your mouth and throat.
If you miss the 'hand to mouth' aspect of smoking, these may suit you.
Nicotine nasal spray.
Nicotine nasal spray
The spray delivers a swift and effective dose of nicotine through the lining of your nose.
The fastest acting NRT product on the market, it may be especially responsive for smokers who smoke soon after waking.
Medications and nicotine replacement can double the chances of quitting smoking.