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About stop smoking treatment

If you’ve been a regular smoker for more than three months and you’ve made the decision to quit, treatment with Varenicline or Nicorette InvisiPatch, Icy White Gum, QuickMist Mouthspray or Inhalator can help to make cravings and withdrawal symptoms more manageable.

How do the treatments work?

Cigarettes contain an addictive substance called nicotine.

Varenicline tablets work by mimicking the effects of nicotine in the body, reducing the urge to smoke and relieving withdrawal symptoms.

Nicorette is a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT provides you with a low level of nicotine, but without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke. Nicorette InvisiPatch delivers a steady dose of nicotine to your bloodstream throughout the day. Nicorette Icy White Gum, QuickMist Mouthspray and Inhalator are faster-acting, delivering a smaller amount of nicotine to your system for quick relief from cravings.

These treatments should be used as part of your plan to quit smoking but for the best chance of success you’ll need strong willpower and the support of those around you. Just looking for stop smoking help is a great sign that you’re feeling motivated to quit.

Need stop smoking treatment?

Clinical review within 2–24 hours

How do I use the treatments?

If we prescribe Varenicline, you should begin your starter pack one week before you plan to stop smoking. The starter pack contains an 18-day supply of Varenicline. You’ll gradually increase the dose you’re taking, working towards a regular dose of 1mg twice a day with meals. When you finish your starter pack, you’ll move to the maintenance pack of either 1mg or 0.5mg tablets as suitable for you.

Courses typically last 12 weeks. If you’ve successfully stopped smoking by week 12, you may be able to continue for 12 more weeks to avoid relapse.

Nicorette InvisiPatch will release a steady dose of nicotine to the bloodstream via the skin. You can reduce the strength of Nicorette InvisiPatch over the course of 12 weeks if it’s working well for you.

Nicorette Inhalator can be used any time you feel like smoking or if you have a craving. It’s up to you how many inhalations (puffs) you take, how often you take them and for how long. You can use up to a maximum of 6 cartridges a day.

Nicorette Icy White Gum should be used as a replacement for any cigarettes you would have normally smoked. It’s most suitable for people who smoke 20 cigarettes or fewer per day.

Nicorette QuickMist Mouthspray can be used when you would normally have smoked or vaped or if you have cravings. You can use 1 or 2 sprays at a time to ease cravings with a maximum of 4 sprays per hour. For full instructions and other important information on how to use these treatments, please make sure to read the treatment plan we send you and the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the medicine.

Can I take Varenicline with NRT?

No, you should not take Varenicline with any NRT products or while using vapes containing nicotine. Varenicline will not be as effective if you’re still receiving nicotine in any form. You also should not take any other stop smoking treatments at the same time, such as Zyban (bupropion) or Champix (branded Varenicline).

What are the side effects?

Nicotine is an addictive drug so you’ll probably experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking. These may include changes in mood, increased appetite and disturbed sleep. Stop smoking treatments should help reduce these symptoms but are unlikely to completely remove them.

As with all medicines, you may also experience side effects from these treatments.

Some common side effects of Varenicline include difficulty sleeping, mood changes, tummy upset or headache. These should usually lessen or disappear after the first few weeks as your body gets used to the medicine.

The most important but rare possible side effects of taking Varenicline include a small risk of heart attacks or stroke, changes in thinking or behaviour, and allergic reactions.

The most common side effect of Nicorette InvisiPatch is itching, which usually disappears within a few days.

Nicorette Icy White Gum can sometimes cause a slight irritation of the throat when you start treatment. It may also cause increased salivation.

During the first few days of using Nicorette QuickMist Mouthspray, irritation to the mouth and throat may occur and hiccups can also be common.

Other common side effects of Nicorette InvisiPatch, Nicorette Icy White Gum and Nicorette QuickMist Mouthspray can include headache, dizziness and feeling sick.

Excessive use of Nicorette Inhalator could also possibly lead to nausea, faintness or headaches.

For full information of a medicine’s side effects and how to take it, it’s important to read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your medicine.

How quickly will the treatments work?

You may still feel urges to smoke while using treatment, but they should be less severe.

If taking Varenicline, the recommended total course of treatment is 12 weeks. If you successfully stop smoking at the end of the 12 weeks, an additional course of 12 weeks with Varenicline may be considered to help keep you on track. Starting to build up Varenicline in your system one week before putting out your last cigarette will give you the best chance of it working for you. If you do have a slip up, don’t worry, carry on taking it and try to stop again as soon as possible.

For best results while using Nicorette InvisiPatch, most smokers are recommended to start on the 25mg patch for 8 weeks followed by a gradual reduction in patch strength. If we prescribe this treatment for you, we’ll recommend a 12-week treatment plan to help you quit for good.

Nicorette Icy White Gum, QuickMist Mouthspray and Inhalator should help relieve cravings quickly and effectively to help you stop reaching for that cigarette or vape in the moment.

If you think you might find it too difficult to quit completely straight away, you can gradually reduce your smoking while using treatment to help you reach the goal of not smoking at all.

Important safety information

It’s important that you tell us which other medicines you’re taking – whether they’re prescription or medicines you’ve bought over the counter. You must also tell us about any current or previous physical and mental health conditions. We need to know so that we can prescribe treatment if suitable for you.

What if I’m pregnant?

If you're pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, quitting smoking is really important for both you and your baby. You've done the right thing to try and find help.

If possible, giving up smoking and quitting nicotine completely is the best option. If you can’t do this, using NRT products like Nicorette to help you get there can still be a safer alternative to smoking.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s better to begin with NRT treatments that are only used intermittently, such as Nicorette Icy White Gum, QuickMist Mouthspray or Inhalator. If breastfeeding, try to use these treatments just after you feed your baby to ensure they only get the smallest amount of nicotine possible.

If you experience significant nausea and/or vomiting with these, you can try Nicorette InvisiPatch instead. With this treatment, you must ensure you remove the patches at night when the foetus would not normally be exposed to nicotine.

You should not take Varenicline while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Find out more about stopping smoking for pregnancy.

What are my options if I don’t use treatment?

Whatever your approach to quitting, willpower is vital. You’ll probably need to make some lifestyle changes and follow certain tips to keep away from temptation and give yourself the best chance of success.

Support groups, online or in person, can offer advice and encouragement. Friends, family and colleagues can be a great help in keeping you positive or finding new ways to socialise, away from cigarettes. Try boosting your motivation by planning a reward for your achievement.

Hypnotherapy and acupuncture are non-medical treatments that may help some people, although the evidence for them isn’t strong. You may also find that counselling can help you too.

The following support groups and website can also help you to quit:

Keeping you safe

If you do not feel safe, are experiencing abuse or control, or have experienced this in the past, please find support below or send us a message:

  • Ask for ANI at your local Boots pharmacy
  • Contact National Domestic Abuse helpline 24/7 on 0808 2000 247 (Women)
  • Contact Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010 327 (Men)
  • Look at guide to support options for abuse
  • Emergency situation dial 999, speak, cough or tap, then speak or press 55 when through to the police

Page last reviewed by: Dr. Christina Hennessey 21/09/2023