Skip to content

Nicotine Inhaler

Font Size

Topic Overview

A nicotine inhaler looks like a cigarette. It has a cartridge that contains nicotine. You inhale, and nicotine vapor is absorbed into your mouth and throat area. You don't absorb the nicotine into your lungs like you do with a cigarette. As a result, you don't get the same "hit" of nicotine as with smoking.

Nicotine inhalers are available only by prescription.

Recommended Related to Smoking Cessation

10 Ways to Reduce Stress While You Quit Smoking

Many smokers think that lighting up helps them relax. They’re fooling themselves, experts say. “Nicotine withdrawal makes people feel jittery and anxious, which smokers often confuse with feeling stressed,” says Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco. “Lighting up makes them feel better, not because that cigarette eases stress but because it’s delivering the next dose of nicotine.” Breaking free of nicotine addiction...

Read the 10 Ways to Reduce Stress While You Quit Smoking article > >

You may find a nicotine inhaler helpful if you have trouble breaking free from smoking rituals, such as pulling a cigarette out of the pack, lighting it, putting it in your mouth, and inhaling.

The inhaler does not deliver nicotine as rapidly as a cigarette. The risk of addiction, or of transferring your nicotine habit from cigarettes to the inhaler, is low.

How to use a nicotine inhaler

Do not begin to use an inhaler until you have stopped smoking.

A nicotine inhaler kit comes with a nicotine inhaler and cartridges containing nicotine. You place a cartridge into the inhaler and pierce the cartridge to release the nicotine.

  • When you feel the urge to smoke, hold the inhaler between your fingers and draw on it as you would a cigarette. It takes many more puffs to get an effect, about 3 to 4 times more puffs than when you smoke a cigarette.
  • Replace the cartridge after about 20 minutes of active puffing. Puffing on the inhaler for 5 minutes at a time will give you enough nicotine for four uses before the cartridge is empty.
  • Dispose of empty nicotine cartridges carefully. An empty cartridge still contains enough nicotine to make a child or pet very sick.
  • Clean the mouthpiece regularly with soap and water.
  • Do not use a nicotine inhaler for more than 6 months.

Other important guidelines for using an inhaler

  • Use the nicotine inhaler longer and more often at first. In a few days you will find what works best for you.
  • Most people use 6 to 10 cartridges a day. Your doctor may adjust the number of inhaler cartridges you get during the first weeks. Do not use more than 16 cartridges each day unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • As your body adjusts to not smoking, your doctor will tell you either to stop using the inhaler or to slowly reduce the dose.
  • Inhalers are usually used for about 12 weeks and then use is slowly decreased (tapered off).
  • Avoid drinking beverages, especially acidic ones (such as coffee, juices, and soda pop), for 15 minutes before and after you use the inhaler.
  • The inhaler does not work properly in temperatures below 50°F (10°C), so it may not be a good choice if you plan to use it outside during winter months in a cold climate.
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

sore foot
3 warning signs.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
checking blood sugar
Symptoms and treatment.
man behind computer screen
10 possible causes.
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Common triggers.
man screaming
Making sense of symptoms.
human liver
What puts you at risk?
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
two male hands
Understanding RA.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.