Nicotine (nicotine polacrilex)

What is nicotine?

Nicotine is available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that reduce withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking, including nicotine craving. They have been found to be most effective when a smoker who wants to quit completes the program as recommended on the product labeling.

What is nicotine used to treat?

  • Reduces withdrawal symptoms
  • Nicotine cravings
Common brands containing nicotine:
  • Commit
  • Habitrol
  • Nicoderm CQ
  • Nicorette
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

How much nicotine can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for nicotine

Nicotine and nicotine polacrilex are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are safe when used as directed. You should follow the appropriate product instructions and related quitting schedule that matches the amount of cigarettes you smoke per day.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

  • You have completed the complete smoking cessation program and still feel the need to use a smoking cessation product.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • You had a recent heart attack or have heart disease or an irregular heartbeat.
  • You have high blood pressure that is not controlled with medicines.
  • You are using a non-nicotine stop smoking medicine.
  • You are taking a prescription medicine for depression or asthma.
  • You are under 18. OTC smoking cessation products are not available for sale to individuals under the age of 18.
  • You are on a low-sodium diet. Some oral medicines may contain sodium.

Do not use if:

  • You continue to smoke, chew tobacco, use snuff, or use a nicotine gum or other nicotine-containing product.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • You are using a patch and develop skin redness that does not go away after four days, your skin swells, or you get a rash.
  • You experience mouth problems or severe sore throat while using a lozenge or gum.
  • You have an irregular heartbeat or palpitations.
  • You get symptoms of nicotine overdose such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, and rapid heartbeat
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

What are the side effects of nicotine?

  • Hiccups or belching
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Throat or mouth soreness
  • Common nicotine withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop smoking and include dizziness, anxiety, depression, or trouble sleeping, among others. If any of these withdrawal symptoms or side effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.