What You Need to Know About Nicotine Lozenges

Guidelines for Using This Smoking Quit Aid

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The nicotine lozenge is a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) that comes in the form of a small, candy-like, sugar-free tablet in flavors like cinnamon, fruit, and mint. When a nicotine lozenge is placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve over the course of 20 to 30 minutes, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, relieving short-term cravings to smoke.

You cannot smoke while using nicotine lozenges, so many people use them as a quit aid, though there are many things you should know and understand about these lozenges before using them to help you quit smoking.

Pros and Cons

Nicotine lozenges offer smokers trying to quit and ex-smokers quick relief from cravings that are part of nicotine withdrawal. However, they are not a fail-safe solution.

Lozenges should only be used on an as-needed basis, but since they are similar to candy—both in taste and form—the potential to abuse this quit aid is significant.

While you don't need a doctor's prescription for nicotine lozenges, they are a serious over-the-counter medication that must be used exactly as directed and you need to carefully wean yourself off of them in the amount of time suggested.

Brands and Strengths

Brand names associated with the nicotine lozenge include Commit, Nicorette, and Nicorette Mini Lozenge; all of these brands are made by GlaxoSmithKline and are available in the following strengths:

  • The Commit and Nicorette lozenges are available in two strengths: 2mg and 4mg
  • The Nicorette Mini lozenge is also available in 2mg and 4mg strengths, but is smaller in size and dissolves up to three times faster than regular Nicorette lozenges

Using Nicotine Lozenges

You can choose the correct lozenge strength by knowing when your first cigarette of the day is or was smoked and following these guidelines:

  • 4mg nicotine lozenges if the first cigarette is/was smoked within 30 minutes of waking
  • 2mg nicotine lozenges if the first cigarette is/was smoked 30 minutes or more after waking

Nicotine lozenges should be used in the following dosages:

  • Weeks 16: One lozenge every 1 to 2 hours
  • Weeks 79: One lozenge every 2 to 4 hours
  • Weeks 1012: One lozenge every 4 to 8 hours

Do not use more than five lozenges in 6 hours or 20 lozenges in a 24-hour period, and you should stop using nicotine lozenges by the end of 12 weeks. If you have trouble stopping, consult your doctor.

Because acidic foods and beverages can inhibit the absorption of the nicotine through the lining of the mouth, lozenge manufacturers recommend waiting 15 minutes after eating before using a nicotine lozenge.

Also, you cannot smoke or use any other NRT while using nicotine lozenges as you run the risk of a nicotine overdose.

Side Effects 

Side effects that are commonly associated with nicotine lozenge therapy include:

  • Sore throat
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea/indigestion
  • Hiccups

If you experience any of the following extreme side effects, stop using the nicotine lozenge and contact your doctor immediately:

  • Irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Severe throat irritation
  • Mouth sores or other problems
  • Symptoms of nicotine overdose, which may include dizziness, vomiting, confusion, blurred vision, and feeling weak

Special Precautions to Consider

If any of the following circumstances apply to you, consult your doctor before you begin using nicotine lozenges:

  • You are pregnant. Smoking is harmful to the fetus, so you should try to quit before you get pregnant, if possible. If you are not able to, it's important to work closely with your doctor to safely quit smoking during pregnancy.
  • You are using prescription quit aids such as Chantix or Zyban, or medications for depression or asthma, as dosages may need to be adjusted once you stop smoking. Smokers metabolize some medications more quickly than non-smokers, so be sure to let your doctor know about all medicines you're taking, including vitamins and supplements.
  • You are allergic to any medicines, foods, or other substances.
  • You have heart disease, high blood pressure, angina, or have had a heart attack.
  • You have diabetes, an overactive thyroid, blood vessel condition like Brueger's disease, an adrenal gland tumor, or stomach ulcers.
  • You are on a low sodium diet or have phenylketonuria (PKU).

Nicotine is poisonous, and lozenges may contain enough nicotine to harm children or pets. Store them in a safe place and contact Poison Control at 800-222-1222 in case of an overdose.

A Word From Verywell

The nicotine lozenge can help you quit smoking, but keep in mind that it is a quit aid, not a miracle worker. The magic for success with smoking cessation lies within you, not a product. Work on developing your resolve to quit smoking one day at a time and be patient.

Adding some online support to your quit program will improve the chance of long-term success with smoking cessation. The beauty of online help is that it is available to you 24/7 because people visit from all over the world. 

Time, determination, and support will help you kick the habit of smoking. Believe that, believe in yourself, and be willing to do the work it takes to quit. You'll find that you can quit smoking, just as others have.

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