University Health Services | Get Tested FAQ


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Tobacco Cessation

The Pharmacy at University Health Services offers a variety of Nicotine Replacement Therapies that your clinician can prescribe for your use in quitting tobacco products. While some of these products are available without a prescription (over-the-counter medications), it is very important that you and your clinician discuss which nicotine replacement therapy would be most suitable for you. It is also very important to remember that if you and your clinician decide a nicotine replacement therapy is to be part of your tobacco cessation efforts that you do NOT smoke while on the nicotine replacement therapy-this could cause a nicotine overdose, with consequences ranging from nausea to cardiac arrhythmia.

Over-the-Counter Products

Nicotine Gum Nicotine gum is designed to provide 2 to 4 mg. of nicotine over a 30-minute period. Up to thirty pieces a day can be chewed for the lower dose gum. While it does help the cravings associated with tobacco cessation, the gum can have some side effects, such as bad taste, nausea, and sore jaws from chewing. As with all the other nicotine replacement therapies listed, it CANNOT be used if a person is still smoking.

Nicotine Patches Nicotine patches contain a time-released form of nicotine that gradually enters the person's bloodstream during a 12 to 24 hour period. Nicotine patches are available in a variety of doses, and users generally will start at a higher dose and taper off to a lower dose patch over weeks to months. Since the nicotine patch is placed on the body only once every 12 to 24 hours, it is simple to use and has few side effects. Like the nicotine gum, it CANNOT be used if a person is still smoking.

Prescription Products

Nicotine Nasal Spray A form of nicotine in a nasal spray is available with a prescription at the UHS Pharmacy. Generally, a person will use 2 sprays, one in each nostril, when they have an urge to smoke up to three times an hour during an 8 to 10 hour period. Some smokers prefer this over the nicotine patches because they can dose the nicotine more in line with their former smoking habit. However, some people do report significant nasal irritation with the nasal spray, especially on first using it. As with all other nicotine replacement therapies, it CANNOT be used if the person is still smoking.

Nicotine Inhaler A nicotine inhaler is available with a prescription at the UHS Pharmacy. A cartridge with vaporized nicotine is placed in a plastic inhaler, and a person then inhales as they would a cigarette. Up to 16 cartridges a day can be used in place of tobacco products. Common side effects include mouth irritation, coughing, and stomach upset. Finally, like all the other nicotine replacement therapies, the nicotine inhaler CANNOT be used if the person is still smoking.

Zyban Zyban is available with a prescription at the UHS Pharmacy. It is the first non-nicotine replacement therapy approved by the FDA for smoking cessation. While Zyban is not a nicotine replacement therapy, it does act on the areas of the brain that nicotine also acts on. Zyban can significantly reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and patients can taper down on their tobacco products while they are using Zyban. There are some significant contraindications for Zyban use; it is very important that you first discuss this topic with your clinician.

We Can Help!

University Health Services is dedicated to helping students in their efforts to quit tobacco products. All of the nicotine replacement therapies listed cost approximately the same as a "one pack a day habit" of cigarettes. The best way to look at the cost is as a financial and health investment, which will have both an immediate and long-term pay-off. Used correctly, and with counseling and support, the nicotine replacement therapy can provide significant help in quitting your tobacco habit and improving your health.

Freedom From Smoking® program for Penn State Students

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