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Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): patches

Patches are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Read about how you can access them and, more importantly, how to use them.

A nicotine patch is a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) product that you stick to the skin – it looks a little bit like a square-ish band-aid.

How to use

As soon as you wake up each morning, stick the patch on your skin. It slowly releases nicotine into your body.

How does it help?

It helps by replacing some of the nicotine you would normally get from a cigarette. You may still get cravings but patches take the edge off. Using the patch can help to reduce nicotine withdrawal when you quit such as cravings, difficulty concentrating, frustration, restlessness and anxiety.

Pros and cons

The patch is easy to use and gives you nicotine all day (although it releases nicotine a bit slower than the mouth spray, lozenge, gum or inhalator). Patches are cheap if you get a prescription from a GP (see below). After putting the patch on, it can take hours to absorb the nicotine and get to a comfortable level. We recommend using combination therapy: patch plus fast-acting NRT for extra nicotine when you need it. Combination therapy is one of the most effective quitting methods.


Using patches doubles your chance of quitting. Combination therapy – using patches plus the mouth spray, gum, inhalator or lozenge – is even more effective again. If you add Quitline to the mix, you’ll have an even better chance (request a Quitline callback). 

Where to get it?

You can get the patches from most pharmacies or supermarkets. You can also get discounted patches on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). To get PBS patches you need to get a prescription from your doctor, which you take to your pharmacist. Patches are available on the PBS as a 12-week supply, once a year. PBS patches come in 16 hour or 24 hour patches, and you can get different strengths.

Best use

Patches work best when you use them for at least 8 weeks (12 weeks is recommended). There are two types of patches:

  1. Day patch (16hr patch): worn only during the day and taken off before bed
  2. Day and night patch (24hr patch): worn all day and all night. 

The most common way to use the patches is to use the strongest patch only. Some brands recommend starting on the strongest patch and slowly moving down to a weaker patch over a number of weeks. There is no evidence to show that stepping down to the weaker patch is better. Patches also work best when you also work on the stress side of quitting and also strategies to beat the habit

For more information: talk to your doctor, pharmacist or Quitline, or download the nicotine patches fact sheet.

Closing The Gap Scheme

An Aboriginal person can receive 2 X 12 week course of the following patches in a 12 month period:

  • Nicabate P (21mg / 24hr patch)
  • Nicotinell Step 1 (21mg / 24hr patch)
  • Nicorette 16 hr Invisipatch (24mg / 16hr patch)
Aboriginal people can access smoking cessation medications at discounted rates if they are registered for the Closing The Gap Scheme with their doctor or clinic:

  • With a Concession Card - free
  • Without a Concession Card - around $6.00 per script

For Zyban there maybe an additional small co-payment with a concession card.

Please note: The PBS recommends that a person who has been prescribed NRT or other smoking cessation medications be referred to the Quitline 13 7848 or other comprehensive support and counselling.

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