Using Nicotine Gum to Quit Smoking

Man holding packet of nicotine gum

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Nicotine gum (e.g., Nicorette) is a form of therapeutic nicotine designed to help ex-smokers gradually reduce the amount of nicotine they are used to receiving daily from cigarettes.

Nicotine chewing gum is sugar-free and comes in two strengths: 2mg for people who have smoked fewer than 25 cigarettes a day, and 4mg for those who have smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day. It's widely available over the counter (without a prescription) at pharmacies, department stores, and online stores.

Research indicates that nicotine gum therapy works well and may help up to a third of smokers who seek treatment to quit the habit.

Gum Brands and Flavors

Nicotine gum is marketed under several brand names, including Nicorette, Habitrol, Nicotrol, and Nicotinell, along with a variety of store brands.

All brands offer mint and fruit flavors. Additionally, Nicorette markets a Cinnamon Surge flavor.

Medicinally, there are no differences among brands, but consumers might prefer the taste of one over another.

How to Use Nicotine Gum

Chew nicotine gum slowly until you feel a mild tingling sensation. Then, nestle it between your cheek and gum. When the tingling stops, chew it slowly, placing it back between your cheek and gum when the tingling sensation returns. Continue this until all of the nicotine is released from the gum—approximately 30 minutes.


Remember the following to get the most from your nicotine gum:

  • Don't eat or drink for 15 minutes before chewing nicotine gum. This could reduce absorption of the nicotine, especially if you consume acidic foods or drinks.
  • Do not chew nicotine gum quickly.
  • Don't chew more than one piece at a time.
  • Don't swallow it.
  • Don't chew it more often than recommended.

Storage and Disposal

Keep nicotine gum in its packaging, at room temperature in a dark, dry place. When you're done chewing it, wrap it up in paper and throw in the trash. Don't flush it down the toilet or put it where kids and pets have access.

Length of Nicotine Gum Therapy

Follow this schedule to reduce nicotine cravings:

  • Weeks 1 to 6—One piece every one to two hours.
  • Weeks 7 to 9—One piece every two to four hours.
  • Weeks 10 to 12—One piece every four to eight hours.

Tips for Reducing Gum Usage

  • Gradually decrease the amount of time you chew the gum. If you chew it for 30 minutes, drop down to 20 minutes, then 15, then 10, etc.
  • Replace one piece of nicotine gum each day with regular, sugarless gum.
  • If you use 4mg gum, switch to 2mg gum.
  • Nicotine gum therapy should be completed within three months. If you have trouble stopping nicotine gum therapy, consult your doctor.

Nicotine Gum Side Effects and Precautions

Side effects commonly associated with nicotine gum therapy include:

  • Mouth ulcers
  • Jaw muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Headaches/dizziness

Contact a healthcare provider immediately if any of the following occurs:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizure
  • Breathing problems
  • Symptoms of nicotine overdose

See a doctor before using nicotine gum if:

  • You have a heart condition or disease
  • You have uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • You have a dental condition or disorder
  • You have an overactive thyroid
  • You're pregnant, or plan to be soon

Tell your doctor about all prescription and non-prescription medications you're using before starting nicotine gum therapy.

Signs and Symptoms of Nicotine Overdose 

To avoid nicotine overdose, don't smoke or use any other nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) while using nicotine gum.

Signs and symptoms of a nicotine overdose can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Cold sweat
  • Drooling
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Hearing problems
  • Weakness or fainting

If you suspect an overdose of nicotine, stop using the gum or lozenge and call your doctor immediately.

Keep Nicotine Gum Away From Children and Pets

Nicotine is poisonous, and nicotine gum contains enough nicotine to harm children and pets. Store in a safe place, and contact Poison Control services in your area in case of an overdose.

Nicotine Gum Addiction

Nicotine gum is used on an as-needed basis. Because of this, the potential to abuse this particular quit aid is significant.

Remember that nicotine gum is a serious medication that you must use exactly as directed. Carefully wean yourself off of it in the amount of time suggested when you're done using it.

Success Quitting With Nicotine Gum

Although nicotine gum can help you quit smoking, it's not a miracle drug. The possibility for success lies within you, not any product.

Develop your will and determination to quit smoking one day at a time, and be patient with yourself.

Time, patience and support will help you beat nicotine addiction. Believe in yourself and be willing to do the work for as long as it takes for you to quit smoking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I quit nicotine gum?

    Wean yourself off of nicotine gum gradually. Consult your doctor for advice, especially if you're having difficulty quitting the gum and/or other forms of nicotine.

  • What are the side effects of chewing too much nicotine gum?

    Nicotine overdose can cause:

    • Dizziness
    • Upset stomach
    • Severe headache
    • Vomiting
    • Cold sweat
    • Drooling
    • Confusion
    • Blurred vision
    • Hearing problems
    • Weakness or fainting
  • How does nicotine gum work and how do I chew it?

    Nicotine gum helps with the withdrawal symptoms you might experience as you quit smoking. It provides small amounts of nicotine. Gradually, you reduce the amount of gum you chew and the frequency with which you chew it.

  • How much nicotine is in nicotine gum compared to cigarettes?

    Nicotine gum contains much less nicotine than cigarettes. Therefore, the risk of gum addiction is very low.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Tang JL, Law M, Wald N. How effective is nicotine replacement therapy in helping people to stop smoking? BMJ. 1994;308(6920):21-26. doi:10.1136/bmj.308.6920.21

  2. How to use nicotine gum. CDC.

Additional Reading

By Terry Martin
Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction.