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Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): quick tips

Your queries answered with our quick guide to using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Can I keep using NRT if I've had a couple of cigarettes?

Unless you’ve gone back to smoking your regular amount, don’t stop using NRT.  It’s safe to keep using NRT to help you quit.

How long do I use NRT?

It’s important to keep using NRT while you work on ways to manage your triggers to smoke, with support from Quitline (13 7848).  This can take many weeks.  It’s recommended that you use NRT for at least eight weeks. 

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the length of time that would be best for you.

Can I use NRT while I eat or drink?

It’s best not to eat or drink while using any of the faster-acting types, and for a few minutes after. These include the mouth spray, gum, lozenge and inhalator.

Don’t have acidic foods and drinks such as coffee, soft drink and juice for 15 minutes before using faster-acting types of NRT.  These can affect absorption of nicotine through the mouth.

Do I just wait for a craving before using faster-acting NRT?

NRT doesn’t give you the same fast ‘hit’ of nicotine as a cigarette. When possible, you should use a faster-acting type of NRT before you go into a situation that you expect will trigger cravings. 

Why do I have hiccups?

Hiccups may be a sign that you’re using the faster-acting types of NRT the wrong way. You may be swallowing the nicotine rather than letting it get absorbed in your mouth. Chew and park that gum, gently move that lozenge around the mouth and make sure the mouth spray is used under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek. More information on how to use each type of NRT can be found here.

Do I puff the nicotine inhalator like a cigarette?

Take frequent little breaths (like ‘sips’ on a straw).  Don’t inhale deeply as this can cause coughing and a sore throat.  The inhalator gives you much less nicotine than smoking.  You need to think of how many puffs you would normally take of each cigarette and multiply that by eight. If you puff your morning cigarette 10 times, you’ll need to take 80 little ’sips’ on the nicotine inhalator. More information on how to use the inhalator.

I’m using the nicotine mouth spray. Why does my throat hurt?

It’s important to spray the mouth spray under the tongue or into the side of your cheek (not into the back of your throat). More information on how to use the mouth spray

Why is my skin itchy where I put the nicotine patch?

It’s important to move the patch to a new place on your body each day. You can put it anywhere on your upper arms, chest or back. More information on how to use the patch

Can I use two types of NRT at the same time?

Using two types of NRT together (a nicotine patch and a faster-acting type) is called combination therapy. Most people who smoke have a better chance of success if they use combination therapy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if combination therapy is suitable for you.

I'd like to read more about each type of NRT

We have a separate page on each type of NRT: patches, mouth spray, gum, lozenge, inhalator. We also have a page on combination therapy: patches plus mouth spray, gum, lozenge or inhalator. Combination therapy together with support from Quitline is one of the most effective ways to stop smoking. 

I'd like to talk to someone about NRT

Chat with your doctor or pharmacist, or talk to one of our Quitline counsellors. You can call Quitline on 13 7848 or request a callback.

For more information: talk to your doctor, pharmacist or Quitline. For an overview of nicotine replacement therapy, watch our NRT frequently asked questions video.


Please note, this information is not intended to replace consumer medicines information or health professional advice. If you would like to provide feedback, please contact  

Last updated June 2022.

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