broken cigarette being held next to lady's arm with smoking patch

Stop smoking aids

Man holding cigarette snapped in half

Quitting aids can help you stop smoking and manage nicotine withdrawal cravings.

Quitting aids and treatments are easy to buy from shops, pharmacies and on prescription to help you quit smoking. These reduce withdrawal symptoms and keep your mind off smoking.  Evidence shows quitting aids are most effective if used alongside support from a friendly local stop smoking service. You can also use more than one – ask your pharmacist for advice.

Man sticking a white nicotine patch on his arm

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

Most people smoke because they are addicted to nicotine. This is what can make you feel stressed if you haven’t had a cigarette in a while.  NRT is a medication that gives you enough nicotine to keep cravings away. But it doesn’t contain the poisons in tobacco smoke like tar and carbon monoxide which cause cancer.  Using NRT can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects such as bad moods and cravings which may occur when you stop smoking.  While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it’s relatively harmless.

Where to get it and how to use NRT

NRT can be bought from pharmacies and some shops. It’s also available on prescription from a doctor or NHS stop smoking service.  It’s available as:

  • skin patches
  • chewing gum
  • inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)
  • tablets, oral strips and lozenges
  • nasal and mouth spray

Patches release nicotine slowly. Some are worn all the time and some should be taken off at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays act more quickly and may be better for

Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a patch with a faster acting form such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray.

Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop. But some people use NRT much longer – the main thing is not smoking.