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Many things motivate people to quit tobacco: being a good role model,
wanting to reduce others’ exposure to second hand smoke, saving money,
and wanting to feel better and improve health. Whatever your reason,
keep in mind that quitting cold turkey is the least successful method
for kicking cigarettes for good. Fortunately, many over-the-counter and
prescription quit aids have been developed that may significantly
improve your odds of success.
As you figure out which quit-smoking aids best meet your needs, keep the
following in mind:
What they are: Nicotine patches are similar
to an adhesive bandage; you place one on your skin and it releases a
constant amount of nicotine into the body while you wear it. They come
in different sizes, with larger sizes delivering more nicotine.
Why to buy: Nicotine replacement patches are
available over the counter or with a prescription, and typically cost
less per day than a pack of cigarettes. Patches are convenient and easy
to use and can be removed during sleep to lessen the likelihood of
insomnia. Due to the constant, slow release of nicotine, you are not
likely to develop a craving for a patch; it doesn’t provide the intense
delivery of a cigarette.
Things to consider: Unlike smoking, which
delivers a large dose of nicotine to your body within seconds, nicotine
from a patch can take up to three hours to get into the body. For this
reason, putting on a patch when a cigarette craving strikes is not
effective. The nicotine patch reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms, such
as lack of concentration and irritability.
What they are: Nicotine replacement gums
are available over the counter or with a prescription and typically cost
much less per day than a pack of cigarettes. Gum comes in different
strengths to provide the amount of nicotine you need, based on your
previous smoking habits.
Why to buy: Gums are relatively convenient and
easy to use, although you must remember to keep yours with you, because
it must be chewed frequently to deliver enough nicotine to manage
cravings. Though it cannot get nicotine into your body quite as quickly
as a cigarette, gum delivers nicotine within minutes, which is far
faster than a patch.
Things to consider: Nicotine gum should not be
used with cigarettes and you should not eat or drink for 15 minutes
before or while using the gum. To chew enough gum to quell cravings,
most people need between 15 and 30 pieces per day, chewed off and on for
about 30 minutes. Nicotine gum should not be chewed continuously like
regular gum and should never be swallowed. It is chewed a few times to
break it down and then placed in between your gum and cheek for 10 or 15
minutes, chewed again for a bit, then put back into the cheek.
Continuous chewing may cause stomachaches.
What they are: Nicotine replacement
lozenges and lollipops are available over the counter or with a
prescription. They may cost a bit more than patches or gum, but
typically less than a pack of cigarettes. Lozenges and lollipops come in
different strengths to provide the amount of nicotine you need, based
on your previous smoking habits.
Why to buy: Some people don’t like to chew gum
and prefer sucking on a candy to replace nicotine when quitting smoking.
These products are relatively convenient, but you must remember to keep
them on hand to use throughout the day. Lozenges and lollipops deliver
nicotine within a few minutes, similar to gum.
Things to consider: Nicotine lozenges and
lollipops should not be used with cigarettes and you should not eat or
drink for 15 minutes before or while they are in your mouth. Nicotine
lozenges and lollipops should not be chewed or swallowed as this can
lead to heartburn and stomachaches. Some people find these products
irritate the mouth and throat.
What they are: These products deliver
nicotine through a spray into the nose or are inhaled through the mouth.
They are available by prescription only.
Why to buy: Nicotine nasal sprays and inhalers
deliver nicotine as quickly as a cigarette, making them particularly
helpful for people who are highly dependent on tobacco. For the person
who smokes more than a pack of cigarettes per day, these products may be
Things to consider: You need a prescription to
obtain a nicotine spray or inhaler. Sprays cost about the same as gums
and patches, but inhalers can be more expensive. They may be covered by
insurance, which can help reduce the cost.
What they are: Two different non-nicotine
prescription medications may help people quit smoking by reducing the
desire to smoke.. These are bupropion (brand name Zyban) and varenicline
(brand name Chantix).
Why to buy: These medications may significantly
increase the quit smoking success rate beyond using nicotine replacement
alone. They can be used in conjunction with nicotine replacement,
further increasing success rates of quitting.
Things to consider: Like all prescription
medications, these drugs can have side effects. Many people tolerate
them well, but some people experience very serious side effects,
particularly from varenicline, which in some people causes hostility,
agitation, anger, aggression, depressed mood, anxiety, paranoia,
confusion, mania, or suicidal thoughts or actions. These can develop
when a person begins taking the medication, after several weeks of
treatment, or after stopping the varenicline. Insurance may not cover
the cost of these medications.
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