Facebook Pixel How to stop smoking - Breathe
Skip to main content

How to stop smoking

We’re here to help you. We understand that different types of support work for different people.

Your support, your way.

If you are stopping smoking by yourself you will want to make sure you are giving yourself the best possible chance of success.

We can send you information to help you with stopping smoking. Enter your email below to register.

    CNWL would encourage you to provide your consent in order that we can process data and information about you. We will share this data where necessary with other health professionals such as your GP or specialist services. The information we collect and process will be used to help us meet the contractual obligations as set down by the local health service commissioners in accordance with the service we are providing. You can request to view, amend or delete your data at any time by contacting us at (www.cnwl.nhs.uk/about/contact).

You can always talk to one of our advisors if things get tough.


Download the NHS Smokefree app

Get daily tips, support and motivation with this free stop smoking app. Join the thousands who have already quit with our support.

iTunes Google Play

Specialist advisors are available to provide you with free expert advice and guidance on stopping smoking.

They can advise on what stop smoking medicine is best for you, set up a plan of action and help you address any problems you are facing.

Calls can be arranged between 9.00am – 7:00pm, Monday to Friday



Maybe you’ve tried to stop smoking before and it didn’t work, or there are other challenges that are making it difficult for you to stop.

You can speak to our advisors and receive expert, personalised support on the phone. Your advisor will talk you through various options available to help you stop smoking and agree a schedule of support telephone calls with you.

We use a mix of face-to-face and telephone or video appointments. You can expect at least two face-to-face consultations, which will take place on your first and fourth-week appointments.


Stop smoking medications

Using a stop smoking medicine can double your chances of stopping smoking.

How they work

Cigarettes contain nicotine. By smoking regularly and over a long period of time, your body becomes dependent on nicotine. Giving up smoking can cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which include cravings, headaches, feeling irritable and not being able to sleep. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage these withdrawal symptoms.

There are two types of stop smoking medicines:

  1. Bupropion tablets (Zyban)
  2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) including patches, gum, lozenges, inhalator, mouth spray and nasal spray

Both of these are available from the service, and Nicotine Replacement Therapy can also be bought from pharmacies without a prescription and other shops (such as supermarkets).

Both Zyban and Nicotine Replacement Therapy are effective treatments to help you stop smoking, but you may find one suits you more than another. There are lots of things to take into account, so we recommend that you speak to your local Stop Smoking adviser, your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

Is taking Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) safe?

Some people think that using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is just swapping one addiction for another. But this isn’t true. NRT does not contain tar, poisons or carbon monoxide like cigarettes do, so it’s very unlikely to cause cancer. It is absorbed into your body in a different way to the nicotine absorbed from cigarettes, and it is very much less addictive.

NRT is suitable for most adults, but if you have a heart or circulatory condition, or are on regular medication, you should check with your doctor.

If you are pregnant, it is safe for you to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Our Pregnancy Specialist is available to answer any queries you may have, or to support you during your quit attempt.

Available treatments to help you stop smoking


Gum is available in two strengths: 2mg and 4mg. The 4mg gum is most appropriate for smokers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, or who are strongly addicted to nicotine.

When you use nicotine gum, the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of your mouth. When you first stop smoking you should be chewing about 1 piece of gum every hour. To release the nicotine from the gum, chew until the taste becomes strong or hot. After this you can rest the gum inside your cheek. Once the taste or heat fades you will need to chew again to release more nicotine. Discard the gum after about an hour.

Gradually you can begin to cut down on the amount of gum you use. Try chewing for shorter periods, using smaller pieces, a lower dose or alternating with a non-nicotine gum.

Is gum right for me?

Gum can be helpful because it provides short bursts of nicotine.  However, some people can find the taste unpleasant or dislike having to ‘park’ the gum in their mouth.


Nicotine patches work by releasing nicotine directly into the bloodstream through the skin.

How to use patches

There are two ways to use patches: just during the time you are awake (16 hour patch) or both day and night (24 hour patch). The 24 hour patch may cause some sleep disturbance but is helpful for people who have strong cravings during the early morning.

Patches also come in different strengths. Whichever strength you start on you should aim to gradually reduce the strength over time before stopping the usage of patches completely.

Who should use patches

Patches are useful for those who are concerned about discretion (they can be worn easily beneath clothing) or dislike the taste of the oral products. They release a steady amount of nicotine. They may also cause skin irritation for some people.


These are small tablets containing nicotine which dissolve quickly under your tongue. How to use microtabs Microtabs are designed to be dissolved under the tongue. Make sure you don't chew or swallow them - this may cause unwanted side effects. You should use one or two tablets every hour for up to three months after you stop smoking. You should then be able to gradually cut back your consumption. Once you are taking one or two tablets a day you should be able to stop completely. Who should use microtabs Microtabs can also be used by those who are trying to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, as well as those who have quit completely. You should stop smoking within 6 months of using microtabs.


Lozenges are placed in the mouth and dissolve slowly to release the nicotine and take about 20-30 minutes to dissolve.

How to use lozenges

Nicotine lozenges work in a similar way to nicotine gum. To release the nicotine from the lozenge, suck until the taste becomes strong or hot. After this you can rest the lozenge inside your cheek – once the taste fades you will need to suck again to release more nicotine. Suck until the lozenge has completely dissolved – each one should last 20 to 30 minutes.

You should use lozenges for about twelve weeks. For the first six weeks you should have one lozenge every one to two hours. You should then reduce your intake to one lozenge every two to four hours, finally reducing to once every four to eight hours in the last two weeks of treatment.

Who should use lozenges

Lozenges are helpful because they provide short bursts of nicotine.  Lozenges should not be used by people with mouth ulcers.


Inhalators look like a plastic cigarette. The inhalator releases nicotine vapour which gets absorbed through your mouth and throat. If you miss the ‘hand to mouth’ aspect of smoking, these may suit you.

How to use inhalators

A nicotine inhalator works by releasing nicotine vapour when you suck on it. Inhalators work very quickly so you should reach for your inhalator whenever you feel strong cravings for a cigarette. Each inhalator contains a disposable cartridge which has enough nicotine for around 3 to 4, 20 minute puffing sessions. This equates to around 400 puffs.

You should use the inhalator for a total of twelve weeks. Use between six and twelve cartridges per day for the first eight weeks depending on how many cigarettes you smoke. For the following two weeks reduce this by half, finally stopping the use of the inhalator completely in the last two weeks of treatment.

Who should use inhalators

The advantages of inhalators are that they work much more quickly than gum or lozenges. They can be therefore used directly when you experience cravings for a cigarette. They also feel very similar (because of the motion involved in using them) to a cigarette so become a good replacement – especially for those who miss the ‘hand to mouth’ aspect of smoking.

Nasal Spray

The spray delivers a swift and effective dose of nicotine through the lining of your nose.

How to use nasal spray

You use the nasal spray by releasing one spray into each nostril twice an hour. It should be used no more than five times an hour and no more than forty doses a day. Each dose will give the equivalent nicotine contained in one cigarette. This is the fastest way that nicotine can enter the bloodstream reaching the brain within 10 minutes.

You should use the nasal spray for a total of twelve weeks. Use between one and two doses per hour for the first eight weeks depending on how many cigarettes you smoke. For the following two weeks reduce this by half, finally stopping the use of the nasal spray completely in the last two weeks of treatment.

Who should use nasal spray

The advantages of nasal sprays are that they work much more quickly than gum or lozenges. They can therefore be used directly when you experience cravings for a cigarette – and most closely mimic the rush you get from smoking than any of the other forms of NRT.

The nicotine nasal spray is the strongest form of nicotine replacement therapy. This can be a very useful and effective form of medication for highly dependent heavy smokers who have difficulty giving up using other methods.

However this method is not suitable for everyone and may cause side-effects such as nose and throat irritation, coughing, and watering eyes.


Bupropion (Zyban) is a pill that reduces your urges to smoke, and also makes smoking a little less rewarding for your brain. It is available for people only above 18 years of age. How best to use it Bupropion is generally less effective than using two forms of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (e.g. combining the nicotine patch with nicotine gum). But if NRT hasn’t worked for you in the past, Bupropion tablets (Zyban) may be worth a shot.

Mouth Spray

This 1mg fresh mint flavour mouth spray gets to work on cravings in 60 seconds. One dispenser contains 150 sprays of 1mg nicotine per spray. Spraying 1-2 sprays of Quickmist into the mouth is equivalent to one cigarette.

How to use

If using for the first time or if you have not used the spray for 2 days, you must first prime the spray pump. Priming: Point the spray away from you and any other adults, children or pets near you. Press the top of the spray with your index finger 3 times until a fine spray appears. Spray into your mouth avoiding the lips and try not to inhale while spraying and not swallow for a few seconds after spraying. If you find the taste too harsh try spraying onto your hand and use your tongue or finger to transfer spray to mouth (more controlled and effective). Use 1-2 sprays every 30 minutes to 1 hour. No more than 4 sprays per hour. Do not exceed 64 sprays per 24 hours.

Choose how you want to stop smoking

Want to stop by yourself?

Top tips for stopping

Want to talk it over?


Want to meet an advisor?