Healthy living

Quitting products

There are now a variety of products to help you quit smoking, from over-the-counter gums and lozenges to prescription medications.

Certain products work better for some people than others, and some products may not be suitable for some people.

For example some products may not be suitable for people with mental health conditions or other health conditions, such as heart or circulatory diseases. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding also need to carefully consider which product they use.

For this reason, it is important to discuss your options with your doctor, pharmacist or health practitioner.

Nicotine replacement therapy products

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products can ease your withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking.

These products are available over-the-counter from pharmacies and even some supermarkets.

Nicotine gum

Nicotine gum is absorbed through the lining of your mouth. Chew the gum slowly, then rest the gum for 1 minute under your tongue or between your cheek and teeth.

Each piece of gum should be chewed for 30 minutes and used at regular intervals. It is available in 2 mg and 4 mg doses which are used according to your level of dependence.

You should gradually reduce your dose over the course of treatment.

Advantages of nicotine gum

Some of the advantages of this product include:

  • it is easy to regulate doses
  • it is convenient to use
  • there are a variety of flavours available.

What you need to know

You must take to care to ensure you have no traces of food or drink left in the mouth before you take your dose.

Possible side effects include:

  • sore mouth and jaw
  • headache
  • hiccups
  • mouth ulcers
  • indigestion and nausea (feeling sick).

This product is not suitable for people with dentures.

Nicotine patch

The nicotine patch works by slowly releasing a constant dose of nicotine.

Once you have stopped smoking apply the patch to a dry, non-hair covered part of your skin.

Place a new patch on a different site to avoid irritation and use 1 patch per day, gradually decreasing the patch strength over the course of treatment.

Nicotine patches are available as 16-hour and 24-hour patches, with strengths ranging from 5 to 21 mg.

If you are using the 16-hour patch, remove it before you go to bed to ensure that no nicotine is being absorbed while you are sleeping.

Advantages of nicotine patches

Some of the advantages of this product include:

  • it is easy to use
  • it provides a constant dose of nicotine
  • only 1 application is required a day.

What you need to know

Nicotine patches may irritate your skin – avoid this NRT product if you have a skin disorder.

The 24-hour patches may disturb your sleep. Other side effects may include:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea.

It is important that you don’t smoke while you are wearing the patch.

Nicotine inhaler

The nicotine inhaler consists of a cartridge (plastic tube sealed at both ends loaded with nicotine), which is inserted into a mouthpiece.

When you breathe in through the inhaler, nicotine is vaporised (turned into a gas) and absorbed in your mouth.

Use the inhaler whenever you have an urge to smoke. The nicotine supplied by each cartridge will last according to the intensity and number of puffs (inhalations) you take.

The dose is individual and depends on how much nicotine you need to reduce your withdrawal symptoms.

Advantages of nicotine inhalers

Some of the advantages of this product include:

  • it keeps your hands busy
  • it is easy to regulate the dose.

What you need to know

Inhalers may may irritate your throat and make you cough.

Inhalers need to be used at regular intervals.

Nicotine lozenge

Sucking on the lozenge allows nicotine to be absorbed through the lining of your mouth.

It’s important to allow the lozenge to dissolve completely in your mouth, which may take 20 to 30 minutes.

Lozenges are available in 2 mg and 4 mg strengths.

During the course of your treatment, you will reduce the number of lozenges you take each day.

Advantages of nicotine lozenges

Some of the advantages of this product include:

  • it is pleasant tasting
  • it is a discreet way of delivering nicotine.

What you need to know

Common side effects include:

  • hiccups
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • sore throat
  • nausea
  • mouth irritation
  • flatulence and indigestion.

Sublingual tablet

This is a 2 mg sublingual (under the tongue) tablet that dissolves and releases nicotine into the lining of the mouth.

The tablet should be placed under your tongue and should not be sucked, chewed or swallowed. It should only be used whenever you have an urge to smoke.

You will reduce your dose over the course of treatment.

Advantages of sublingual tablets

Some of the advantages of this product include:

  • it is easy to use
  • it is discreet
  • the dose can be regulated as required.

What you need to know

The initial taste of the tablet may be unpleasant, but this improves over time.

You may have a sore throat as a side effect.

Prescription medications

Depending on your level of nicotine dependence, you may wish to use prescription medications to help you give up smoking.

You will need to speak with your doctor first, as not all of these products are suitable for everybody.

Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride)

Zyban is an oral non-nicotine therapy to assist you in stopping smoking. It reduces cravings and other nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

When you first take Zyban, you continue to smoke for the first week. After then, you decide on a quit date and must stop smoking within 2 weeks of the date.

Advantages of Zyban

Zyban can be taken with nicotine patches, providing you have stopped smoking.

What you need to know

Zyban is only available on prescription and is not suitable for some people.

Possible side effects include:

  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • anxiety.

Zyban should be used in conjunction with cessation support, such as talking to a quit advisor.

Champix (varenicline tartrate)

Champix is an oral medication used to assist adults in quitting smoking, which helps reduce craving and withdrawal symptoms.

Champix works by blocking the effects of nicotine in the body and reducing the associated satisfaction.

When you start taking Champix you set a quit date within the first 2 weeks of your treatment. 

Once this date is set, it is not recommended that you smoke after this time. If you do slip-up and smoke, you should make another attempt to quit.

A 12 week course of Champix is usually sufficient to help people stop smoking.

Advantages of Champix

Some of the advantages of this product include:

  • Champix does not contain nicotine and is not addictive.
  • It helps to control cravings.
  • It reduces the enjoyment associated with smoking.

What you need to know

  • Possible side effects include:
    • nausea
    • headaches sleeping problems
    • fatigue
    • increased appetite and changes in taste.
  • It should not be used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Champix is only available on prescription and is not suitable for some people.
  • Champix is not recommended for pregnant women.
  • If you have a mental illness, or a history of mental illness, you need to speak to your doctor about this before you start taking this product.
  • Champix should be used in conjunction with cessation support, such as talking to a quitting advisor.

Where to get help

Quitline

Quitline is a confidential telephone support service staffed by professional advisors who are trained to provide encouragement and support to help you quit.

Phone: 13 7848 (13 QUIT) (local call rates from land line only). Advisors are available from:

  • Monday to Friday 7am – 8pm
  • Saturday 12.30pm – 3.30pm
  • Sunday closed.

Acknowledgements

Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Stress less, try these relaxation techniques.