Quit-Smoking Aids

Ready to quit?

Nicotine replacement products and medicines called Zyban and Chantix may reduce the discomfort that often occurs in the first few weeks after quitting smoking. These products can help you feel more comfortable and in control while you adjust to life without tobacco. In fact, they can double your chances of quitting for good!

The right mix of support, planning, and medication can help you quit for good, no matter how many times you’ve tried to quit in the past. If you are a UPMC Health Plan member, think about checking out your options by calling 1-800-807-0751. You may want to use medication and the Health Plan’s free support services to increase your chances of quitting.  

Who should use a quit-smoking aid?

Anyone who uses tobacco and is interested in quitting should consider using quit aids along with counseling. Using medicine with counseling will greatly increase your chances of success. Talk to your doctor about any medical condition you have that might interfere with using a quit-smoking aid.

How do I get started?

You should speak with your doctor about quitting and the product or combination of products that may be right for you. Be sure to discuss any other medicines you are taking and the possible effects of quit aids used in combination with other medications. Do not use tobacco while using nicotine replacement products. Talk to your doctor before using a quit aid during pregnancy.

Nicotine patch

This product has helped many people adjust to life without cigarettes. It is sold as Nicotrol or Nicoderm CQ and as a generic product. The patch is available without a prescription. You should not use this product if you continue to use tobacco in any form.
  • Benefits: The patch is simple to use. It delivers a steady, low dose of nicotine to the user. This helps reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings and urges.
  • How it works: Patches stick to the skin the same way that adhesive bandages do. The bandage-like adhesive patch contains nicotine that enters your body through your skin.
  • Possible side effects: Mild skin reactions, vivid dreams, and sleep disturbances are possible.
  • How to use it: The dose you use depends on the number of cigarettes you smoke or the amount of smokeless tobacco you use each day. Each patch puts a small amount of nicotine into your blood stream. One patch is used each day. The patch begins to work about 2 hours after it is put on and lasts about 12 hours. A new patch should be placed on a different area of the upper body or outer arm each day. Choose an area without hair. The dose of the patch is stepped down over time to help your body adjust to a lower level of nicotine.
  • How long to use it: Patches are used for 8 to 10 weeks. People using large amounts of tobacco may require a longer time for treatment. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor before using this product.

Nicotine gum

This may be a good choice for people who have not been successful with the patch or who have had a skin reaction to the patch. It may also be a good choice for tobacco users who like to chew gum.

Nicotine gum can be used in combination with other products to relieve cravings that may occur for some people who are used to a large amount of tobacco daily. It is sold as Nicorette and as a generic product. Nicotine gum is available in regular, orange, or mint flavor. You don’t need a prescription to buy it.

You should not use this product if you continue to use tobacco in any form.

  • Benefits: Gum allows you to control the dose of nicotine you receive. A burst of nicotine is delivered within minutes.
  • How it works: Nicotine in the gum is released when the gum is chewed. Small amounts of nicotine enter your body through the lining of your mouth.
  • Possible side effects: You may have mouth soreness, hiccups, and an upset stomach when you use this product.
  • How to use it: The dose you use depends on the number of cigarettes you smoke or the amount of smokeless tobacco you use each day. Nicotine gum is chewed a few times until you notice a slight peppery taste. It should then be placed or “parked” between your cheek and gum until the taste is almost gone (1 to 5 minutes). It will take several minutes before the gum begins to work. The routine (chew and park) is repeated every few minutes for about 30 minutes. The gum is parked in different areas. The length of time between each use is increased over time to help your body adjust to a lower level of nicotine. Most people use 10 to 15 pieces of gum each day. You should avoid eating or drinking 15 minutes before and during use.
  • How long to use it: Nicotine gum is used for up to 12 weeks. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using this gum.

Nicotine nasal spray

This product may be good for people who are very dependent on tobacco. It is sold as Nicotrol NS and you need a prescription to buy it.

You should not use this product if you continue to use tobacco in any form.  

  • Benefits: Nasal spray provides the fastest delivery of nicotine of all nicotine replacement products.
  • How it works: Aerosol nicotine is sprayed into your nose. A small amount of nicotine enters your body through the lining of your nose.
  • Possible side effects: You may have a runny nose, sneezing and coughing, or watery eyes when using a nicotine nasal spray.
  • How to use it: You spray the nasal spray into your nose. Spray each nostril 1 to 2 times an hour. You should not use more than 10 sprays per hour or 80 sprays per day. After 8 weeks of treatment, use is gradually tapered over the next 4 to 6 weeks.
  • How long to use it: The spray can be used for up to 24 weeks. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using this spray.

Nicotine oral inhaler

Using this product is similar to the act of smoking a cigarette. The temperature of the product affects the delivery of nicotine. It is sold as the Nicotrol Inhaler and you need a prescription to buy it.

You should not use this product if you continue to use tobacco in any form.

  • Benefits: The inhaler meets the hand-to mouth behavior needs of many tobacco users.
  • How it works: The inhaler is like a hollow cigarette that contains a small amount of nicotine. When it is puffed, nicotine is released. A small amount of nicotine enters your body through the lining of your mouth.
  • Possible side effects: You may have a runny nose, sore throat or mouth, cough, upset stomach, or headache when using this product.
  • How to use it: You put the inhaler into your mouth and take a deep breath as you normally would when smoking. Use frequent, continuous puffing for 20 minutes for each inhaler cartridge. A maximum of 16 cartridges may be used per day. The inhaler is used 6 to 16 times a day for the first 6 to 12 weeks of use. Use is tapered off over the next 6 to 12 weeks.
  • How long to use it: The inhaler should not be used for more than 24 weeks. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using

Nicotine lozenge

Lozenges are convenient and can be used discreetly to quickly satisfy cravings. This product is sold as Commit and you need a prescription to buy it.

You should not use this product if you continue to use tobacco in any form. Lozenges can be used in combination with other products to relieve cravings that may occur for some people who are used to a large amount of tobacco daily.

  • Benefits: Extra pieces can be used to deal with sudden cravings. This product is sugarfree and does not contribute to weight gain.
  • How it works: The lozenge releases nicotine as it dissolves. A small amount of nicotine is absorbed through the lining of your mouth.
  • Possible side effects: You may have heartburn, indigestion, hiccups, nausea, or a sore throat when using the lozenge.
  • How to use it: You choose a strength based on how soon you smoke your first cigarette or use smokeless tobacco in the morning. The lozenge dissolves slowly in your mouth for 20 to 30 minutes. One lozenge is used every 1 to 2 hours (no fewer than 9 and no more than 20 per day) in the first 6 weeks. The number of lozenges used each day is decreased during the next 6 weeks until you don’t need them at all. You should not chew, bite, or swallow the lozenge. Avoid eating or drinking 15 minutes before use and 15 minutes after use.
  • How long to use it: The lozenge can be used for up to 12 weeks. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using this lozenge.

Non-nicotine tablets

This medicine helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and your urge to use tobacco. It is sold as Zyban, Wellbutrin, or generic bupropion with sustained release. You need a prescription to buy these products.
  • Benefits: This product does not contain nicotine. It can be used in addition to NRTs.
  • Possible side effects: You may have trouble sleeping, nervousness, constipation, dry mouth, skin rash, or seizures when using this product. This product is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is not recommended for people with a diagnosis of bulimia, anorexia nervosa, or a seizure disorder, or who are taking an MAO
    inhibitor, such as tranylcypromine (Parnate) or phenelzine (Nardil).
  • How to use it: You start this product 1 to 2 weeks before your quit date. It takes about 1 week for the medicine in the tablets to reach the right levels in your body. To have the best chance of quitting, you should not stop using tobacco until you have taken the tablets for at least 1 week. Tablets must be swallowed whole and should not be chewed, divided, or crushed. One tablet is swallowed each morning for the first 3 days. After the third day, one tablet is swallowed each morning and another is swallowed each evening. You must wait at least 8 hours between taking the morning and evening tablets.
  • How long to use it: The tablets are used for 8 to 12 weeks. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using this product.

Non-nicotine tablets — Chantix

This medicine helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It may be the best choice for most people who use tobacco. You need a prescription for this product.
  • Benefits: Chantix does not contain nicotine. When you are ready to stop taking Chantix, you can just stop taking it. You do not need to taper off the dose.
  • Possible side effects: The most common side effects include nausea, vivid dreams, headaches, constipation, gas, and vomiting.
  • How to use it: Chantix comes as a white tablet (0.5 mg) and a blue tablet (1 mg). You start with the white tablet and then usually go to the blue tablet. This medication is taken twice daily. Start taking Chantix seven days before you stop using tobacco. Take Chantix after eating and with a glass of water.
  • How long to use it: Most people use Chantix for 12 weeks. It may be used for 24 weeks to be sure that you are really free of tobacco cravings. The safety of this product for pregnant tobacco users is not known. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using Chantix.

Resources to help you quit smoking

If you are ready to stop smoking, there are many ways to increase your chances of quitting. The right mix of support, planning, and medicine can help you quit for good. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve tried to quit in the past. Consider checking out your options. Most are free.

Experts at UPMC hospitals

You can call the UPMC Referral Service at 1-800-533-UPMC to learn about group support sessions. Tobacco treatment specialists at many UPMC hospitals and clinics will help you develop a personalized quit plan.

The Pennsylvania Free Quitline

This hotline provides telephone support at 1-800-QUIT NOW. Counselors are available any time, day or night, every day. They can also connect callers with local services.

Medicine

Medicine can double your chances of quitting. It can help you feel more comfortable as you adjust to life without cigarettes. Talk to your doctor to decide which medicine (if any) might be right for you.

Self help guide

Journey to a Smoke Free Life is a self-help workbook written by experts at UPMC. It can help you develop a successful strategy to quit.

Online help

An online resource, www.smokefree.gov, allows you to choose the type of help that is right for you. This website offers:
  • A step-by-step guide to quit smoking
  • Instant messaging to an expert at LiveHelp service
  • Free articles and booklets that can be downloaded, printed, or ordered

At the hospital

If you are an inpatient at a UPMC hospital:
  • Ask your nurse if the hospital has the UPMC patient education TV channel, which features a video about quitting smoking.
  • Ask to talk one-on-one with a smoking cessation counselor.

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