Facts About the Nicotine Inhaler

What the Nicotrol® Nicotine Inhaler Is and How to Use it:

The Nicotrol nicotine inhaler is a NRT that consists of a plastic cigarette-like tube that houses a replaceable nicotine cartridge and a mouthpiece. The cartridge contains 10mg of nicotine.

When one draws on the mouthpiece end of the nicotine inhaler over the course of about 20 minutes / 80 puffs, 4mg of nicotine is released and 2mg is absorbed through the membranes in the mouth and throat.

Less than 5 percent of the inhaled nicotine reaches the respiratory tract. This can be repeated every 1-2 hours.

One Nicotrol cartridge delivers about the same amount of nicotine to the user as one cigarette.

Length of Nicotine Inhaler Therapy:

At a minimum, the manufacturers of the Nicotrol inhaler recommend ex-smokers use 6 cartridges per day for three to six weeks, using up to 16 cartridges daily for as long as 12 weeks if needed. Beyond that, consumers can, under their doctor's supervision, taper down their daily dose for another 12 weeks.

Do not smoke while using the nicotine inhaler.

The nicotine inhaler is a prescribed medication that should be carefully used according to package directions and your doctor's recommendation.

Common Side Effects of the Nicotine Inhaler:

Common side effects associated with the nicotine inhaler include:

  • throat and/or mouth irritation
  • cough
  • stomach upset

Additionally, you might experience:

  • change in taste
  • sinus pain/pressure
  • pain in the jaw, neck or back
  • headaches

In rare instances, side effects can be serious. If you experience a rapid heart rate while using the nicotine inhaler, seek medical attention immediately.

In addition, the nicotine inhaler can cause symptoms that fall outside of those listed here and below in the special precautions section.

If you experience anything out of the ordinary while using this product, call your doctor.

Special Precautions:

Consult your doctor before choosing the nicotine inhaler if:

  • You are pregnant. Nicotine can be harmful to the fetus so you should try to quit without the use of an NRT if possible.
  • You've recently had a heart attack, have a heart condition, high blood pressure or problems with circulation.
  • You have respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
  • You have hyperthyroidism or insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • You have kidney or liver disease.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to nicotine and share all other medications you're using, including vitamins and supplements.

Symptoms of Nicotine Overdose:

Do not smoke while using the nicotine inhaler or any other NRT, as you run the risk of a nicotine overdose.

Signs of a nicotine overdose may include:

  • dizziness
  • upset stomach
  • bad headaches
  • vomiting
  • cold sweats
  • drooling
  • confusion
  • blurred vision
  • hearing problems
  • weakness or fainting

    If you suspect you've had an overdose of nicotine, stop using the nicotine inhaler and call your doctor immediately.

    The Pros and Cons of the Nicotine Inhaler:


    The nicotine inhaler reduces symptoms of nicotine withdrawal by allowing ex-smokers to quit using nicotine gradually.


    The nicotine inhaler reinforces smoking behavior.

    When we quit smoking, it is counter-productive to use a NRT that mimics the cigarettes we are working so hard to break free of, both in looks and in how it is used.

    Risk of re-addiction.

    Because the nicotine inhaler is used on an as-needed basis, the potential to abuse this quit aid is significant. As mentioned above, it is critical to use this nicotine-based product exactly as prescribed, weaning off of it in the amount of time suggested.

    The Bottom Line:

    The nicotine inhaler is a solid tool that can help you quit smoking, but remember that it is a quit aid, not a miracle worker. The magic for success with smoking cessation lies within you, not a product.

    Work on developing the resolve to quit smoking one simple day at a time and be patient.

    Time, determination and support will help you win this race. Believe that, believe in yourself and be willing to do the work it takes to quit for as long as it takes. You'll find that you can quit smoking, just as others have.


    National Institutes of Health. Nicotine Oral Inhalation. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a606021.html Accessed August 2010.

    Smokefree.gov. Nicotine Inhaler Fact Sheet. http://www.smokefree.gov/mg-nicotine_inhaler.aspx Accessed August 2010.

    Pfizer - Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Nicotrol® Inhaler. http://media.pfizer.com/files/products/uspi_nicotrol_inhaler.pdf Accessed August 2010.

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