Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

One of the hardest parts of quitting is managing nicotine cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

NRTs are products that provide you with a low level of nicotine without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke.

It can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when you stop smoking.

NRT is a licensed medicine and there are very few risks from using it. It can help you to manage your cravings and is far less harmful than smoking. For example, a slow-release patch can help you manage the background craving and a fast-acting patch can help when you feel the sudden urge to smoke.

NRT products are available as:
  • skin patches
  • chewing gum
  • inhalators (which look like plastic cigarettes)
  • tablets, oral strips and lozenges
  • nasal and mouth spray

Patches release nicotine slowly. Some are worn all the time and some should be taken off at night. Inhalators, gum and sprays act more quickly and may be better for helping with cravings.

There's no evidence that any single type of NRT is more effective than another. But there is good evidence to show that using a combination of NRT is more effective than using a single product.

Often the best way to use NRT is to combine a patch with a faster acting form such as gum, inhalator or nasal spray.

Treatment with NRT usually lasts 8-12 weeks, before you gradually reduce the dose and eventually stop.


An e-cigarette is an electronic device that delivers nicotine in a vapour. This allows you to 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 rather than the medications listed above. As with other approaches, they're most effective if used with support from a stop smoking service. 41% of people that use e-cigarettes quit successfully. 

There are no e-cigarettes currently available on prescription. You can get reputable advice from stores or websites that have signed up to the Independent British Vape Trade Association here 

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.

Varenicline (Champix)

Varenicline (brand name Champix) is a medicine that works in 2 ways. It reduces cravings for nicotine like NRT, but it also blocks the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking.  Evidence suggests it's the most effective medicine for helping people stop smoking.

Varenicline is only available through the Stop for Life service and participating pharmacies for those that are eligible.  You can look up your local pharmacy by entering your postcode below.

Champix Supply Update: 2 November 2021

Today the Department of Health and Social Care issued an updated Supply Disruption Alert for varenicline (Champix). Also available here

It is important to note that there is no date for the resupply of Champix by Pfizer and no alternative supplier.

The NCSCT has updated its initial guidance on switching to alternative treatment for clients using Champix, including responding to concerns from clients about nitrosamines. Available here

We will review our training and clinical resources to reflect that Champix is not a treatment option for smokers wanting to quit, and emphasise alternative medications.

We will let you know as soon as we have any update on the situation.

Please contact us on 0800 122 3790 for advice and guidance from the Stop for Life Oxon team.


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