Quit Smoking Aids

Some people quit smoking ‘cold turkey’. Many more quit with help from quit aids and support.

Strong nicotine withdrawal symptoms make quitting very hard. These symptoms include having trouble sleeping, feeling irritable or having headaches.

Quit smoking aids manage these symptoms. They include:

These products are generally safe to use. If you have concerns because of a medical condition you should check with your health care provider.

Research shows that your best chance of quitting is to use one of these aids and get counselling or support.

Contact Tobacco Free Nova Scotia for more information.

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are products that release a small amount of nicotine into your body. This lets you focus on breaking your smoking habits without nicotine withdrawal symptoms getting in the way.

NRTs contain nicotine but they do not contain the other 7000 chemicals that are in cigarettes.

The Nicotine Patch

The nicotine patch is placed on your skin and it supplies a steady amount of nicotine to your body.

Nicotine Gum

When you chew nicotine gum, nicotine in released and absorbed through tissue in your mouth.

Nicotine Lozenge

Nicotine lozenges look like hard candy. Nicotine is slowly released as the candy dissolves in your mouth.

Nicotine Inhaler

A nicotine inhaler is a cartridge attached to a mouthpiece that delivers a small amount of nicotine with each puff.

Nicotine Nasal Spray

Nicotine nasal spray is a pump bottle that you spray into your nose. It delivers a small amount of nicotine with each spray.

NOTE: Always read the instructions on the package carefully. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning any medication.

Medications (non-nicotine)

There are some medications that can help you quit smoking. These need to be prescribed to you by a health care provider like your family doctor.

Bupropion SR

Bupropion is an anti-depressant that may help control cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It works by changing the brain’s response to nicotine. It makes smoking less pleasurable and reduces craving.

Other advantages include:

  • It doesn’t contain nicotine, which is important to some people.
  • It can delay weight gain after quitting for some people.

You normally need to start this medication 7-10 days before your quit date.

Varenicline or Champix®.

Varenicline blocks the effects of nicotine and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It is possible if you start smoking while taking this medication you won’t feel as satisfied. This improves your chances of quitting.

Other advantages include:

  • It’s easy to use
  • It does not contain nicotine, which is important to some people

Both of these medications have side effects. They may not work well for everyone. Check with your health care provider to see if they are the right medication for you.

For more information about stop smoking aids, visit Health Canada’s Stop Smoking Website.

Other ways to quit

Hypnotherapy and laser therapy have been used in attempts to quit smoking.

There isn’t a lot of research behind their success, so we don’t know for sure if they work.

Some people like to use E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes or e-cigs) to cut back on cigarettes.

An e-cigarette is a battery powered device that heats up a liquid solution (e-liquid) and turns it into a vapor that you inhale. They are designed to look and feel like a traditional cigarette. The cartridges come in many different flavours and some have nicotine in them.

E-cigarettes are not approved for sale by Health Canada. The evidence behind them is mixed.

Medical conditions to consider

If you have a medical condition or concerns, such as the ones bellow, you should talk to a health care provider before using quit aids to see what is right for you.

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have a history of seizures
  • You are taking medication for a mental health condition such as depression
  • You are taking natural health care products such as St. John’s Wort
  • You have a history of anorexia or bulimia
  • You take MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), or are allergic to bupropion hydrochloride.
  • You are alcohol dependent