Nicotine replacement therapy (or NRT) can help you combat cravings when you first stop smoking. Products can be bought over the counter or from your pharmacist. In some cases, it’s available free or on prescription from your local stop smoking service or GP.
How does nicotine replacement help?
The main reason that people smoke is because they are addicted to nicotine.
NRT gives you a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke.
It can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms which you may experience in the first few days after you stop smoking.
Use a combination for better results
Evidence shows that using a combination of NRT products is more effective than using just one.
Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a longer-lasting product, like a patch, with a faster acting product such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray, for immediate craving relief.
Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.
The different types of NRT products
NRT comes in many different forms and strengths. You should start with the nicotine strength that’s right for you and gradually reduce the dose.
Who can use NRT?
Most people are able to use NRT, including:
- adults and children over 12 years of age – although children under 18 should not use the lozenges without getting medical advice first
- pregnant or breastfeeding women – your doctor or midwife may suggest NRT if they think it would help you quit, and can advise you how to use it safely
NRT can be bought over the counter or from your pharmacist. In some cases, it’s available free or on prescription from your stop smoking service or GP.
Always read the packet or leaflet before using NRT to check whether it’s suitable for you. And speak to your GP if you have underlying health problems or are taking other medications.