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Which smoking cessation aids should you use to quit for good?

Quitting smoking is hard. Luckily, there are plenty of smoking cessation aids that can help you quit for good. Of course, the variety of options on the market can make it difficult to figure out where to start. With that in mind, let’s talk through the options available to those who want to quit smoking. Maybe you’ll find the one that’s right for you!

Cessation aids that can help you quit smoking

Just as every person has different needs, not all smoking cessation aids are made the same. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks for those looking to quit, which can make it hard to know which aid is right for you. If you are thinking about quitting but aren’t sure which cessation aid to try, we’re here to help. But remember, always consult your physician before starting a new medication.

Nicotine patches

Nicotine patches are easy to use and easily hidden, which is important to some people. Simply peel the back off the patch and place the patch on your skin anywhere between your waist and neck that is comfortable for you. The patch is changed daily, and it is important to remember to rotate the placement site.

Nicotine patches are meant to provide all-day relief from nicotine cravings. They work well, but there is a delay in absorbtion. As such, it takes about two hours for the patch to work the way it is intended.

Nicotine patches come in three different doses: 7, 14, and 21 mg. If you think you might need a higher dose, speak to your provider. With a physician’s permission,
“double patching” to double the dose can be appropriate.

Nicotine gum and lozenges

Nicotine gum and lozenges are great for people in places where they cannot use tobacco but battling a strong craving for it all the same. The gum and lozenges are discreet and fast-acting—both products work within five minutes! They’re intended to be used once per hour, and you should consider using a nicotine patch if you find yourself using them more often.

It’s also important to know how nicotine gum and lozenges are used. You don’t chew nicotine gum like regular gum. It is meant to be chewed a little, then “parked” between your cheek and gums. Nicotine lozenges are not chewed or sucked on at all. You should place the lozenge between your teeth and gums immediately.

These smoking cessation aids come in two doses: 2 and 4 mg. Your starting dose will usually depend on how soon after waking you use a tobacco product.

Nicotine inhaler and nasal spray

Nicotine inhalers work within five minutes and are not meant to be inhaled like a cigarette—users quickly puff the inhaler into their mouths instead of “dragging” like they would on other devices (cigarettes or e-cigs).The inhaler mimics the hand-to-mouth motion many smokers associate with smoking. This replaced habit can help smokers kick the addiction.

The nicotine nasal spray also works very quickly, and using it is simple. You just put one or two sprays into your nostril! However, some people feel the nasal spray is uncomfortable to use.

Keep in mind that both of these are available by prescription only and can be expensive options. It is important to check with Member Services before picking up your inhaler or spray at the pharmacy.

Varenicline (Chantix) or Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

These two medications work within your body to help you kick your habit without administering any nicotine—and that’s unique in a smoking cessation aid. While most smoking cessation aids help wean you off nicotine with staged doses, these target the processes in your brain that feed the habit.

These medications are prescription only. You should talk to your PCP to decide if they are right for you. Even though they are prescription medications, they are not considered a last resort. You can use them at any point in your quitting journey.

Ultimately, the aid you use is your choice, but using an aid—along with support from our Prescription for Wellness health coaching program—could help you take the leap and quit for good. Using resources such as UPMC’s Quitting Smoking Guide or 1-800-QUIT-NOW can also increase the likelihood of quitting smoking successfully.


Nicotine Replacement Therapy. MedlinePlus. 2019 December 2. Accessed January 8, 2019.

Warner C, Shoaib M. How does bupropion work as a smoking cessation aid? Addict Biol. 2005 Sep;10(3):219-3. DOI: 10.1080/13556210500222670