Other Quit Smoking Aids: Sprays and Inhalers

Nicotine quit smoking aids such as sprays and inhalers, along with nicotine patches, and nicotine gum & lozenges, all work basically the same way – by replacing the nicotine from cigarettes with a dose of nicotine from the product.  (If you haven’t read the overview about nicotine replacement stop smoking aids, you may want to read that first - there you will find success rates and comparisons of different nicotine quit smoking aids.) 

Nasal sprays deliver the nicotine through your nasal passages, and nicotine inhalers through the tissues in your mouth in a matter of seconds.  They are by far the quickest delivery systems, and allow you to regulate your nicotine intake as you feel necessary.  The downside to this very rapid delivery of nicotine is that nicotine sprays and inhalers are also the most addictive of the nicotine quit smoking aids, and therefore the most difficult to wean yourself from, too. 

Both sprays and inhalers require a doctor’s prescription. 

Nicotine Spray

Nicotine spray (the brand name is Nicotrol) comes in a small bottle with a metered spray pump designed to dispense a measured dose into each nostril.  You use it by putting your thumb on the bottom of the bottle and a finger on either side of the top to pump one spray into each nostril for a ‘dose.’  The nicotine in the fluid is absorbed through your nasal passages.  (You don’t inhale or ‘sniff’ the fluid.)

Nicotine Inhaler

The nicotine inhaler consists of a mouthpiece and cartridges that you put into your mouth a ‘puff’ on for 20-30 minutes.  Using the nicotine inhaler to quit smoking is both expensive and somewhat labor intensive.  You must puff on it 3-4 times to get the equivalent nicotine as a puff from a cigarette.    Each cartridge is good for about 20 minutes of active puffing, and the recommendation is to use at least six, but no more than 16 cartridges per day. 

Side Effects

All nicotine quit smoking aids are addictive, but a sprays and inhalers are the most addictive of them all.  A secondary addiction to nicotine spray or the nicotine inhaler is very likely.  In other words, because of the delivery method of these nicotine replacement therapy products, you will likely become addicted to them instead of cigarettes as you use them to quit, so you will have to wean yourself from the product itself as the final step in your quitting process. 

Besides the secondary addiction, side effects for these nicotine quit smoking aids can include irritation of the nose/throat/mouth, and sometimes upset stomach. 

Pros and Cons

What are the pros and cons of using a Nicotine Inhalers or Nicotine Sprays to help quit smoking?

Pros

  • Nicotine sprays and inhalers, like other NRT products, can help you quit.  They allow you to regulate your nicotine dosage.  However, it is this very feature that makes them so addictive.

 Cons

  • The inhaler in particular can be very expensive, running upwards of $1800 for a full course (6 months) of treatment

  • Both the spray and the inhaler require a doctor’s prescription

  • Sprays and inhalers are the most addictive of all of the NRT stop smoking aids, which means they are also the most difficult to quit, with no measurable increase in overall effectiveness.   

Compare Quit Smoking Aids

As you can see in the table below, the spray and the inhaler require a prescription from your doctor, generally require a somewhat longer treatment period, are both more highly addictive and more expensive than other NRT options. 

 

Prescription Needed?

Treatment

Length

Addictive?

Side Effects?

Estimated Cost

Patch

No

8-10 weeks

Yes

Yes

~$200+

Gum

No

12 weeks

Yes

Yes

~$300

Lozenges

No

12 weeks

Yes

Yes

~$300

Nasal Spray

Yes

12-14 weeks

Highly

Yes

~$350+

Inhaler

Yes

3-6 months

Highly

Yes

~$1800+

Alternative technique:

 

 

 

 

Nicotine Fading

No

2 – 4 weeks

No

No

None

 

My Recommendations

As I mentioned on previous pages, Nicotine Replacement Therapy in general has been shown to have a moderate effect at helping people quit smoking, but these products are not by a long stretch the ‘magic pill’ that will make quitting effortless. 

Sprays and inhalers require a doctor’s prescription for a very good reason – they are quite addictive!  I would consider this a therapy of last resort.  If you feel you've tried everything else, including a good behavioral program to help you overcome the psychological dependence on smoking, then perhaps this is worth trying – but BE SURE you've done your homework around the psychology of your nicotine addiction, because otherwise you'll probably just trade your smoking addiction for a nicotine spray or inhaler addiction.

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The Patch: A Piecemeal Approach

Nicotine patches and gum are about as far as you can get from a ‘complete’ solution to the smoking problem. Nicotine Replacement Treatments (NRT) truly focus only on the 'nicotine' side of quitting smoking, and don't begin to address the psychological side of the dependence at all.  

 

The fact of the matter is, the 'habit' of smoking includes a powerful psychological component that can produce cravings to smoke long after the nicotine has been cleared from your body, regardless of whether you use NRT products.

 

Don’t get me wrong – NRT can help you quit, but if you do decide to try nicotine patches or gum, it will be really important to combine them with a strong program for getting rid of your psychological dependence, too.

 

Sign up for the Quit Smoking Tips below to learn more about the psychology of quitting.

 

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