What is the best way for someone to Quit Smoking?

The best treatment for people will vary depending on personal preferences. Factors include age, whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding and any other medical conditions or medication you are taking. Research has demonstrated that various approaches can be effective.

Evidence indicates that they are most effective if used alongside support from an NHS stop smoking service. The accessible treatments are displayed below. You can also read a summary of the pros and cons of stop smoking treatments, allowing you to view different option in comparison. 

What is Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)?

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) The core reason that people smoke is the result of addiction to nicotine. NRT is a medication that administers a small amount of nicotine, minus the tar, carbon monoxide and other carcinogenic chemicals evident in tobacco. It can assist in minimising unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as mood swings and cravings, which can be very apparent when quitting smoking.

Where do you get Nicotine Replacement Therapy?

NRT can be purchased from most pharmacies and is available on prescription from a doctor or NHS stop smoking service.

It's available as;

• skin patches

• chewing gum

• inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)

• tablets, oral strips and lozenges

• nasal and mouth spray

Patches gradually release nicotine. Some are applied round the clock and others are removed at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays kick in faster and can be better for easing nicotine cravings. There is zero evidence to suggest that any single type of NRT is more or less effective than another.

However, there is positive evidence to show that using a combination of NRT is more powerful than a single product being used on its own. Often the best way to use NRT is to couple a patch with a quick acting form such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray.The duration of NRT treatment commonly lasts 8-12 weeks, before you slowly lower the dose and ultimately stop.

Who can use Nicotine Replacement Therapy?

Most people can use NRT, including:

• adults and children over 12 years of age – although children under 18 shouldn't use the lozenges without getting medical advice first

• pregnant women – your doctor may suggest NRT if they think it would help you quit; read more about stopping smoking in pregnancy

• breastfeeding women – your doctor can advise you how to do this safely

Always read the packet or leaflet before using NRT in order to assess its suitability for you. Sometimes it may be advisable to seek medical advice beforehand, for example if you have kidney or liver problems, or you've recently had a heart attack or stroke.

Side effects of NRT can include:

• irritation of the skin when using patches

• irritation of nose, throat or eyes when using a nasal spray

• difficulty sleeping (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams

• an upset stomach

• dizziness

• headaches

Any side effects are often mild. But if they are severe you should contact your GP as the dose or form of NRT may need to be altered.

What is Varenicline (Champix)?

Varenicline (brand name Champix) is a medication that functions in two ways. First, it subsides cravings for nicotine like NRT, but it also blocks the rewarding impacts of smoking. Research evidence suggests it's the most successful medication for assisting people to completely quit smoking. Where to get it and how to use it Varenicline is only available on prescription, so you'll be required to visit your GP or contact an NHS stop smoking service to get it. It's taken as one to two tablets a day.

You should start taking it a week or two before you try to quit. A course of treatment usually lasts around 12 weeks, but it can be continued for longer if necessary. Who can use it? Varenicline is safe for the majority people to take, but there are some occasions when it's not recommended.

For instance, it's unsuitable for:

• children under 18 years of age

• women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

• people with severe kidney problems

Possible side effects Side effects of varenicline can include:

• feeling nausea’s and being sick

• Sleeping problems (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams

• dry mouth

• constipation or diarrhoea

• headaches

• drowsiness

• dizziness

Speak to your GP if you experience any troublesome side effects.


What is Bupropion (Zyban)?

Bupropion (brand name Zyban) is a medication primarily administered to tackle depression, but it has since been found to aid people in stopping smoking. It's unclear precisely how Bupropion works, but it's believed to have an effect on sections of the brain associated with addictive behaviour.

Where do you get Bupropion?

Bupropion is only available on prescription, so you'll usually need to see your GP or contact an NHS stop smoking service to get it. It's taken as one to two tablets a day. It should be taken a week or two before prior to actually quitting. A course of treatment will commonly peruse for between seven to nine weeks. Who can use it? Bupropion is safe for most people to take, although there are some situations when it's not recommended.

For example, it's not suitable for:

• children under 18 years of age

• women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

• people with epilepsy, bipolar disorder or eating disorders

Possible side effects Side effects of Bupropion can include:

• dry mouth

• difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

• headaches

• feeling and being sick

• constipation

• difficulty concentrating

• dizziness

Speak to your GP if you experience any troublesome side effects.

What are E-cigarettes?

An e-cigarette is an electronic device that delivers nicotine in a low-temperature vapour form as opposed to harmful smoke. This facilitates to continue the act of smoking and inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking, as the vapour contains no tar or carbon monoxide. Research has found that e-cigarettes can help you give up smoking, so you may want to try them and see if they work for you, before trying the medications listed above.

As with other similar approaches, they're most effective if used with support from an NHS stop smoking service. There are no e-cigarettes currently available on prescription.

However, it has been rumoured they will become medicinally licensed products meaning only GPs and stop smoking services will be able to prescribe them. For now, if you want to use an e-cigarette to help you quit, you'll have to buy one. Costs of e-cigarettes can vary, but generally, they're much cheaper than cigarettes.

Check out the video of the topic of e-cigarettes and vaping being debated in Parliament on 28th June 2017

Click here for more information on NationWide Pharmacies quitting smoking treatments

What are Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms? 

• intense cravings for nicotine

• tingling in the hands and feet

• sweating

• nausea

• intestinal cramping

• headaches

• coughing

• sore throat

• insomnia

• difficulty concentrating

• anxiety

• irritability

• depression