Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) doubles your chances of successfully stopping smoking and remaining abstinent in the long term. NRT is available on prescription and it can also be bought from supermarkets or pharmacies.

If you come to CAMQUIT, either on an individual basis or as part of a group, prescriptions for NRT will be arranged via your GP/surgery. The guidelines suggest that NRT should be used for a three-month period and that the dosage be gradually reduced during this time. There are several types of NRT products available and they are all proven to be effective.

To ensure that you use the products correctly and that they are the most suitable choice for your quit attempt, CAMQUIT advise that you ask for advice from a GP practice, Stop Smoking Support Advisor or Pharmacist, or that you call CAMQUIT direct on 0800 018 4304.

Nicotine patches

These work by giving you a constant supply of nicotine, which is absorbed through the skin. You can get 16-hour or 24-hour patches, and these come in different strengths. Patches should be applied to clean, dry, non-hairy skin – the upper arm and torso are most commonly used. Use a different site each day to minimise any irritation.

Nicotine gum

This was the first NRT to be developed. There are two main doses available: 2mg and 4mg. The gum is available in different flavours (mint, fruit or original) depending on the brand prescribed. A 'chew-rest-chew' technique should be used so that the nicotine is absorbed through the mouth lining and is not swallowed. Hold the chewing gum between the cheek and the gum when not chewing. Each piece of gum can be chewed for 30 minutes, and a maximum of 15 pieces can be used each day.

Microtab/sublingual tablet

This is a small tablet that contains nicotine and is available in two doses: 2mg and 4mg. The tablet should be placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve slowly. You should not suck, chew or swallow the tablet as this will reduce the amount of nicotine absorbed. A maximum of 40 tablets can be used each day.

Lozenge

The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth, in the same way as the gum and microtab, and is available in three doses: 1mg, 2mg and 4mg. The lozenge should be sucked slowly and placed to rest in between the gum and the cheek. The lozenge will dissolve completely after approximately 30 minutes. Use a maximum of one or two lozenges per hour, and a maximum of 15 in 24 hours.

Mini lozenge

The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and is available in two doses: 1.5mg and 4mg. The lozenge should be sucked slowly and placed to rest in between the gum and the cheek. The lozenge will dissolve completely after approximately 30 minutes. Use a maximum of one or two lozenges per hour, and a maximum of 15 in 24 hours.

Inhalator

This is a plastic device shaped to be similar to a cigarette. A nicotine cartridge is fitted into the inhalator. Sucking on the mouthpiece releases the nicotine, which (despite the inhalator's name) should not be inhaled – the vapour is held in the mouth and absorbed through the mouth lining and throat. Use up to 12 cartridges of 10mg, or six of 15mg, a day.

Nasal spray

This is the strongest form of NRT available and is generally recommended for more dependent, heavier smokers. This is the most rapid form of nicotine delivery available, and the nicotine is absorbed through the permeable membrane of the nose. Spray once into each nostril a maximum of once per hour. The spray can irritate the nose and eye area at initial use, but this will pass.

Mouth spray

This is the newest form of NRT available and is a rapid form of nicotine delivery with the nicotine being absorbed through the lining of the mouth. It is recommended that one or two sprays are used as and when required. Most smokers require one or two sprays every 30 minutes to one hour, to be sprayed into the open mouth avoiding contact with the lips or inhaling the spray.

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