Busting NRT Myths

Myth: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) doesn’t work.
Truth: NRT works. NRT can double a smoker’s chances of quitting smoking for good.

Many smokers find NRT helpful for quitting. Every person is different. It might be worth trying NRT to see if it’s right for you. Even if you tried NRT before, it might be worth trying again. NRT will help you the most if you follow directions carefully. Use enough and use it for the recommended time. Other medications and strategies also are available to help you quit smoking.

Myth: If I use NRT, I won’t have withdrawal symptoms or cravings from quitting smoking.

Truth: You may still have withdrawal symptoms or cravings while using NRT. Try to be patient. Most people find withdrawal symptoms especially difficult the first week or two after quitting. Most smokers find withdrawal symptoms less intense when using NRT. If withdrawal symptoms continue a few days after you start using NRT, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about different NRT products that can help.

Follow NRT product directions carefully. Some NRT products (gum, lozenge, inhaler) work better if they are not used at the same time as high-acid drinks, such as sodas and fruit juices. It is safe to continue using NRT even if you slip and smoke one or two cigarettes. Staying on NRT increases your chances of getting back on track for quitting.

Myth: If I use one NRT product, I can’t use others.

Truth: NRT products can be used safely together. For example, you might use long-acting NRT such as the patch with short-acting NRT such as a lozenge. Some people find both a long-acting patch and short-acting gum to be useful when cravings are high to handle withdrawal symptoms and fight off cravings.

Myth: NRT is too expensive.

Truth: Many states in the United States offer free NRT through their state quitlines. The North American Quitline Consortium has a quitline map to help you find free quit smoking support and other resources near you.

People eligible for Medicare or Medicaid also may be eligible for free NRT. In recent years, insurance coverage for NRT has expanded under many private insurance plans. Check your insurance plan to learn if you are eligible for coverage. 

Even if NRT is not covered through your insurance or state quitline, the cost of NRT for several weeks will still be less than the cost of buying cigarettes.

Myth: Some people should not use NRT.

Truth: NRT has been available for more than 30 years. A great deal of research has been done on NRT. The research shows that NRT is safe and effective for almost all adults for quitting smoking. For most people, there is no need to talk to a doctor or health care provider before using NRT.

Pregnant women, teens, and people with serious health issues should talk to their doctor before using NRT. Serious health issues can include lung disease and heart problems. People with these problems still might be able to use NRT, but should talk to their doctor first.

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