Information on stop smoking aids

There are a range of stop smoking aids, from Nicotine Replacement therapy (NRT) to support services.


The nicotine patch releases a controlled daily amount of nicotine into the skin. It produces lower levels of nicotine than smoking, but these are high enough to prevent withdrawal symptoms.





Nicotine released from chewing NRT gum is absorbed into the bloodstream from the lining of the mouth.





NRT lozenges are available in various flavours and strengths. They are sucked slowly to release nicotine.





A discreet and flexible form of NRT, the tablet is placed under the tongue, where it slowly disintegrates within 30 minutes.




It may provide a substitute for the hand to mouth habit of smoking. Despite its name, nicotine from the inhalator is not inhaled into the lungs; it is absorbed mainly by the lining of the mouth from the plug in the mouthpiece that contains nicotine.



Mouth spray

Nicotine mouth spray is available as a small pocket-sized container. The nicotine quickly absorbs into the body through the lining of the mouth, rapidly relieving the urge to smoke before you act on it.



Nasal spray

Nicotine nasal spray delivers nicotine faster than any other type of NRT, through the lining of the nose.





Champix® is only available on prescription. It has been proven to make you three times more likely to quit successfully. It works by reducing cravings, other withdrawal symptoms and the pleasure you get from smoking.




Zyban® is only available on prescription. It works by reducing the urge to smoke and other withdrawal symptoms. Like NRT, it will double your chances of quitting successfully.



Stop smoking services

Stop smoking services provide specialist treatment for those wanting to stop. Staff delivering these services are specially trained.

The usual format is:

  • pre-quit appointment where you set a quit date
  • quit date appointment
  • weekly appointments for at least four weeks after quit date

To find your local stop smoking service, use our locator.

If NRT has failed in the past, a prescription medication may help your quit attempt. There are two options available, varenicline and bupropion. Varenicline is commonly known by the brand name ‘Champix’ and bupropion by the brand name ‘Zyban’. Research has shown that Champix is more successful than Zyban at helping people quit and also has fewer side effects. Because of this, HSC-funded services in Northern Ireland are advised to consider Champix before Zyban when an alternative to NRT is required.* This will depend on your own individual case as not all medications are suitable for everyone. You should discuss this with your GP or smoking advisor.

*Northern Ireland Formulary 2012