Health Effects of Tobacco

Medications that can help you quit

Need some help quitting?

Gums, patches, lozenges and sprays can replace the nicotine that smokers crave. These medications are called Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) – and they can double your chances of quitting smoking.

How it works:

When smokers take a puff from a cigarette, nicotine is inhaled into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream. This nicotine reaches the brain in less than ten seconds and makes the brain release dopamine – a chemical that makes you feel happy and good. NRTs provide nicotine without the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes, vapes and chewing tobacco.

Where can you get these products?

Most NRTs are available at pharmacies without a prescription, but you should talk to a doctor before trying one out. These products are free to seniors, Indigenous residents and people with extended health benefits. You can also contact the Health Services Administration office at 1-800-661-0830 ext. 0 to request the coverage of these products.

Which NRTs are available in the NWT?

The nicotine patch delivers a steady dose of nicotine directly into the body through the skin and ranges in strength from 7 mg to 21 mg. The patch should be applied to a clean and dry area of skin above the user’s waist and changed every 24 hours for best results. Symptoms: Sleep disruption, skin soreness.

Nicotine gum slowly releases nicotine when chewed, but it shouldn’t be used like normal gum. Chew a piece and then keep it between your gums and cheek before chewing again a few minutes later.

Symptoms: Hiccups, sore mouth.

A nicotine inhaler delivers a small amount of nicotine with each puff. Since it can take at least 80 puffs to equal the nicotine from one cigarette, inhalers come with cartridges that deliver 400 puffs of nicotine vapour. Health professionals recommend using no more than 12 cartridges per day.

Symptoms: Coughing, headache, hiccups, irritated mouth, and throat.

A nicotine lozenge can reduce withdrawal symptoms within 15 minutes. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth. Lozenges come in 1 mg, 2 mg, or 4 mg doses.

Symptoms: Coughing, sore mouth or throat, hiccups, stomach ache.

Nicotine spray is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth and throat. One spray can eliminate some withdrawal symptoms within a minute. Two sprays will equal the amount of nicotine from one cigarette.

Symptoms: Headache, hiccups, unpleasant taste.

Need more help?

Doctors can also prescribe medications. Champix is a pill that people older than 17 can take for 12 weeks, which makes smoking less pleasant and reduces cravings. Zyban is a pill that people older than 17 can take to reduce the cravings to smoke, withdrawal symptoms and also combat weight gain that can come from quitting smoking.