Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy is the administration of nicotine by other means than smoking. This change in the way nicotine is delivered prevents the harmful effects of smoking and is usually used in smoking cessation.


Nicotine replacement therapy can be administered in several forms. The type used depends on the patient and what fits into their lifestyle best. The forms available include:

    Nicotine patches – transdermal (through the skin)
    Nicotine gum – orally (through the mouth)
    Nicotine sprays – orally
    Nicotine tablets – sublingually (under the tongue)
    Nicotine lozenges – orally
    Nicotine metered-dose inhalers – mucosal (through the lungs and mucous membranes)


    Each type of nicotine replacement is supplied in different dosages. The amount to be used depends on the amount of use the patient normally takes into their system. The packaging will contain instructions for the patient to determine which is appropriate for them.


    When using the replacement therapy, the user should not smoke or use tobacco while wearing a patch or using other means of replacement. Nicotine remains in the system for up to two hours after removal.

    Success of Therapy

    Many studies have been completed on the efficacy of the replacement therapy. Most have shown that it does provide some assistance with smoking cessation but many return to tobacco due to the cost of the therapy. It does have a benefit when the person is in a situation in which smoking is not allowed and the nicotinic receptors are irritated such as in public places, during flights, or in hospitals.

    Image Caption: A nicotine patch is applied to the left arm. Credit: Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)