Choosing nicotine replacement therapy

We've got a wide range of nicotine replacement therapies which can help you to cut down or stop smoking


What is NRT?

The nicotine found in cigarettes is what makes smoking addictive and causes withdrawal symptoms, like cravings, headaches and irritability when you stop or reduce smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can help fight these symptoms by releasing low levels of nicotine into your body, without the carbon monoxide, tar and other chemicals found in cigarettes. NRT can be used for people who want to stop straightaway or those who want to gradually cut down smoking before stopping.

Evidence shows you can double, and sometimes even triple, your chances of stopping smoking by using NRT. All forms of NRT are as effective as each other, so you can choose a product which you feel suits your needs. The idea is to reduce the amount of NRT you use until you stop altogether.

The different types of NRT

Nicotine replacement therapy comes in a number of different forms. Which treatment you choose can depend on things like whether you're a heavy or lighter smoker, as well as if you want to cut down on your smoking or stop completely.  Your GP or pharmacist can help you decide which form of NRT to try if you're unsure.


Unlike normal gum, NRT gum is not chewed continuously. It needs to be chewed until the flavour becomes strong, then rested between the cheek and gum so the nicotine passes into your body through your mouth's lining. NRT gum comes in two different strengths, 2mg and 4mg.


Patches release nicotine into your blood stream through the skin. Some are designed to be worn for 24 hours, while others are for 16 hours. To help your patch stick to your skin, apply to a dry, hair-free area and avoid using creams beforehand. Their strengths range from 7mg to 25mg.


If you prefer not to chew gum, you might want to use lozenges instead. Like gum, these need to be rested between the gum and cheek so the nicotine can enter the body through the mouth's lining.


If you miss the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, you might want to use inhalators, which are plastic cigarette-shaped devices. As they release nicotine faster than gum or patches, you might want to use these when you get a craving.

Nasal or mouth spray

If you need rapid and effective relief from cravings, you might want to use a nasal or mouth spray.

Oral strips and microtabs

These need to be dissolved in the mouth. Microtabs are a more discreet option because the small tablets are placed under the tongue.

*Stop smoking aid. Requires willpower. Contains nicotine. Always read the label.

Before using any NRT

  • Always speak to a pharmacist before starting NRT if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, have a heart condition or are on regular medication
  • Speak to a member of our pharmacy team for help choosing the strength of NRT to use. If you've already tried to stop or cut down in the past, or are heavily dependent on nicotine, you may also get advice on combination therapy, where you use two types of NRT
  • Read the instructions on how to use your NRT to help you get the most out of your medication
  • Like all medicines, some people may experience side effects. Please read the patient information leaflet included in your NRT pack for more details. Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you're worried about any possible side effects

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