Products and Aids to Help You Quit Smoking

Person holding piece of nicotine chewing gum
Grace Cary / Getty Images

The best quit smoking aid is your own will and determination. If you aren't motivated and committed to quitting cigarettes, quit aids won't carry you through cessation. But the good news is that if you are ready to quit, quit aids can provide the extra support you need to be successful.

There are a variety of smoking cessation products that are designed to help people stop smoking. Choosing one that is right for you is essentially a matter of preference, barring any medical concerns you might have.

It's always a good idea to check with a healthcare provider if you're thinking about smoking cessation and considering quit aids. A healthcare provider can help you determine what might work best for you. For example, if you are pregnant or have a heart issue, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) may not be a fit for you.

Quitting Without Quit Aids

"Cold turkey" is the term used to describe quitting smoking without the help of quit aids. One advantage of this method is that the majority of nicotine is out of the body within a few days. The discomforts of cold turkey withdrawal can be intense, but physical withdrawal may be shorter for some.

But this approach can be the most challenging, especially in the first couple of weeks. If quitting cold turkey sounds too extreme for your liking, quit aids are a good option. In fact, most experts maintain that quitting cold turkey is not the ideal way to quit for most people.

According to the American Lung Association, just 4% to 7% of people who quit cold turkey are able to stay smoke-free. You actually have a much greater chance of being successful with quitting if you use a cessation tool.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) provide a measured dose of nicotine to help ease the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Unlike cigarettes, which consist of thousands of chemicals—some of which are poisonous and carcinogenic, NRTs contain only nicotine. When used according to the manufacturer's directions, NRTs allow gradual withdrawal from nicotine by gradually reducing the dose.

Nicotine Patch

The nicotine patch, also referred to as the nicotine transdermal patch, is one of the most popular NRTs available on the market and is available over-the-counter (OTC). The patch provides a low level of nicotine over the course of the day and can be combined with other fast-acting NRTs, such as gum or lozenge, for in-the-moment cravings. But be sure to speak to a healthcare provider before combining aids.

Another benefit of the patch is that it's fairly easy to use—you just have to put it on once per day. Drawbacks include side effects, such as skin irritation at the site of application.

Nicotine Inhaler

The nicotine inhaler consists of a plastic cigarette-like tube that houses a replaceable nicotine cartridge and a mouthpiece. The cartridge contains nicotine which is released into the person's mouth and throat when inhaled. Nicotine inhalers require a prescription. To use the inhaler, you bring it up to your mouth and inhale, just as with a cigarette.

Nicotine Nasal Spray

The nicotine nasal spray, which is also only available by prescription, is inhaled through the nasal passages several times a day to relieve nicotine cravings. It's fast-acting in its nicotine delivery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is typically prescribed for people who have a more intense dependency on nicotine.

Nicotine Lozenges

The nicotine lozenge comes in the form of a small, candy-like tablet. When placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream. Lozenges are available OTC.

Nicotine Gum

Used as a chewing gum, nicotine gum comes in two strengths: 2 mg for people who smoke 25 cigarettes or fewer a day, and 4 mg for those who smoke 25 or more cigarettes a day. Nicotine gum is also available OTC.

The Downside of NRTs

Because NRTs contain nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco, there is a slight risk of addiction when using these products. However, if you follow the manufacturer's directions carefully and wean off the NRT of your choice as specified, this can be a safe and comfortable way to end your smoking addiction.

Medication

There are also pharmaceutical quit aids that do not use nicotine as the active ingredient. The following therapies are prescription medications and can only be taken under a doctor's care.

Zyban (Bupropion Hydrochloride)

Bupropion hydrochloride, a medication marketed under the names Zyban, Wellbutrin SR, and Wellbutrin XL by GlaxoSmithKline, is an anti-depressant drug that also works well as a quit aid. It has been shown to dramatically reduce physical withdrawal symptoms associated with nicotine.

Chantix (Varenicline)

Discovered and developed by Pfizer, Inc., varenicline tartrate is marketed under the trademark of Chantix. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2006, Chantix has the unique ability to partially activate nicotinic receptors in the brain, which reduces cravings to smoke. Additionally, if a person smokes during the course of Chantix treatment, the drug impedes smoking satisfaction by blocking nicotine from binding with these same receptors.

Alternative Methods and Remedies

There are alternative quit aids that may be considered for smoking cessation. However, research is mixed and inconclusive on whether or not these have any effect on someone's ability to stop smoking. Below is a look at some other alternative smoking cessation methods.

Lobelia

Lobelia, a medicinal herb traditionally used by Native Americans, has been used in smoking cessation products. Lobelia has qualities that are similar to nicotine while being 50 to 100 times weaker than nicotine.

A 2012 review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, however, did not find evidence that it helped people stop smoking. The review also points out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned OTC quit aids with lobelia in 1993 due to a lack of evidence around efficacy.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis seeks to put people into an altered state of mind where they become more susceptible to suggestion. According to a 2017 review article published in Neuroscience of Consciousness, the strongest evidence points to hypnosis possibly helping people with pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Research on the effectiveness of using hypnosis in psychotherapy—referred to as hypnotherapy—to help people quit smoking is inconclusive. However, it may help some without risk of serious side effects. Another form of hypnosis is self-hypnosis. A potential benefit of this type is that it can be self-administered and only one session is needed. Learn what you need to know to decide if hypnosis may be right for you.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that uses needles placed at specific spots in the skin to treat pain or disease. There is some evidence that acupuncture might help people stop smoking, but more research is needed to see if it can effectively treat addiction to nicotine.

A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Tobacco Induced Diseases found that acupuncture was more effective for quitting smoking in the long-term when combined with counseling, smoking cessation programs, or moxibustion—a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), than when using acupuncture alone. However, more research is needed.

What About the Electronic Cigarette?

Though sometimes promoted as a potential smoking cessation tool, electronic cigarettes are a smoking alternative rather than a true quit aid. E-cigarettes have not been approved in the United States as a quit aid as of yet, so there isn't a doctor-devised and approved quit plan associated with them.

While e-cigarettes and vapes are advertised as less hazardous than traditional cigarettes, they are definitely not harmless and researchers are continuing to learn more about their adverse health effects. Even so, a lot of people use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking.

A Word From Verywell

Finding the right smoking cessation tool will be unique to you. Try not to get discouraged as you go through the process; quitting smoking successfully typically takes a person a few tries. There are different quit aids available to help.

Withdrawal from nicotine is just one part of the healing process involved in recovering from nicotine addiction. The rest involves letting go of the many mental associations that have built up over the years between smoking and your life. Quit aids cannot help with this aspect of healing, but support and education can.

Research your options, select your quit aid or quit method, add some support and education, and you're on your way. There are also different types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and lifestyle changes to consider that can help you quit smoking for good.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Was this page helpful?
20 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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quit smoking medicines are much safer than smoking.

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Fact or fiction: What to know about smoking cessation and medications.

  3. American Lung Association. What to expect when quitting.

  4. American Cancer Society. Ways to quit tobacco without medication.

  5. Jiloha RC. Pharmacotherapy of smoking cessation. Indian J Psychiatry. 2014;56(1):87-95. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.124726

  6. National Cancer Institute. Harms of cigarette smoking and health benefits of quitting.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to combine quit smoking medicines.

  8. Wadgave U, Nagesh L. Nicotine replacement therapy: An overview. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2016;10(3):425-435.

  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nicotine nasal spray.

  10. American Cancer Society. Nicotine replacement therapy to help you quit tobacco.

  11. Ebbert JO, Wyatt KD, Hays JT, Klee EW, Hurt RD. Varenicline for smoking cessation: Efficacy, safety, and treatment recommendations. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2010;4:355-62. doi:10.2147/PPA.S10620

  12. Stead LF, Hughes JR. Lobeline for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;2012(2):CD000124. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000124.pub2

  13. Vardanyan RS, Hruby VJ. Cholinomimetics. In: Synthesis of Essential Drugs. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 2006. doi:10.1016/B978-044452166-8/50013-3

  14. Food and Drug Administration. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.

  15. Jensen MP, Jamieson GA, Lutz A, et al. New directions in hypnosis research: Strategies for advancing the cognitive and clinical neuroscience of hypnosis. Neurosci Conscious. 2017;3(1). doi:10.1093/nc/nix004

  16. Barnes J, McRobbie H, Dong CY, Walker N, Hartmann-Boyce J. Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;6. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001008.pub3

  17. White AR, Rampes H, Liu JP, Stead LF, Campbell J. Acupuncture and related interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(1). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000009.pub4

  18. Wang JH, van Haselen R, Wang M, et al. Acupuncture for smoking cessation: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 randomized controlled trials. Tob Induc Dis. 2019;17:48. doi:10.18332/tid/109195

  19. Chaiton M, Diemert L, Cohen JE, et al. Estimating the number of quit attempts it takes to quit smoking successfully in a longitudinal cohort of smokers. BMJ Open. 2016;6(6):e011045. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011045

  20. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Tobacco, nicotine, and e-cigarettes research report: What are treatments for tobacco dependence?