Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products – patches, lozenges, gum, inhalator, mouth spray – reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, mood swings and anxiety. People who use NRT are more likely to quit and stay quit.

Using NRT is always safer than continuing to smoke. It does not contain the many dangerous chemicals found in tobacco smoke and it allows you to focus on breaking your smoking habits and routines.

NRT products are available at pharmacies and some supermarkets. For more information on how NRT can help you quit smoking, phone the Quitline on 13 7848 or speak to your doctor or a pharmacist. The most effective way to quit is: Counselling / behavioural support + nicotine replacement therapy or quitting medication

Nicotine patches

Certain nicotine patches are available at a cheaper price through your GP (see below).

The patch is worn on the skin and your body absorbs nicotine from it continuously.

The nicotine patch comes in three sizes and you can usually start with the strongest patch – either a 15 or 25mg, 16 hour patch (for use during the day only); or a 21mg, 24 hour patch (for use during the day and overnight). If you smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day, you may also use a pre-quit patch for two weeks leading up to your quit day. 

Government subsidised patches

Nicotine patches are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). You need to get a prescription from your doctor or authorised medical practitioner, and take it to your pharmacist.

Patches on the PBS are available as 1 X 12 week supply each year, consisting of either:

  • 1 x 12 weeks supply of the Nicorette 15mg, 16hr (day only) patch, or
  • 1 x 12 week supply of the Nicabate 21mg, 24hr (day and night) patch, or
  • 1 x 12 week supply consisting of 4 weeks of the Nicotinell 21mg, 24hr (day and night) patch + 4 weeks of the 14mg, 24hr patch + 4 weeks of the 7 mg, 24hr patch (Steps 1, 2 and 3, to help you wean off nicotine at a slower rate)

Gum, lozenge, mouth spray and inhalator

The gum, lozenge, mouth spray, and inhalator all work by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally inhale from cigarettes.

To release the nicotine you chew the gum and park it inside your cheek, suck the lozenge and park it inside your cheek or spray the mouth spray onto the side of your mouth or under your tongue. Take frequent short, shallow puffs on the inhalator. The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of your mouth.Using these products can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, irritability and anxiety.

Combination therapy

Combination therapy means using two types of NRT products at the same time. The approved combinations in Australia are:

  • nicotine patch (15 mg, 16 hour patch; or the 21mg, 24 hour patch)
  • nicotine gum (2mg) OR lozenge (1.5mg or 2mg) OR inhalator OR mouth spray

Combination therapy is recommended if you have not succeeded in quitting when using a single NRT product and is often recommended for heavy smokers. Talk to the Quitline, your doctor or a pharmacist about using combination therapy.

Proper use

It is important to use NRT correctly – follow the instructions provided with the product e.g. the gum is not like normal chewing gum, and requires a specific chew-and-rest technique for it to work. You will have more chance of success using these products if you use them regularly throughout the day, as well as when you have cravings. It is recommended that you use them for at least eight weeks.

We find people sometimes blame the products for not working or causing problems because they are not using them correctly. We can help with using them the right way so if you need advice call Quitline.