Nicotine lozenges

Easy-to-read information about nicotine lozenges, when they are used and possible side effects.

What are nicotine lozenges?

Nicotine lozenges are a form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). They release nicotine quickly and are useful for helping with cravings. Nicotine lozenges can also help to manage some of the other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal when you quit, eg, difficulty concentrating, frustration, restlessness and anxiety. 

For your best chance of success, use a combination of NRT such as the faster-acting lozenge along with the nicotine patch which releases nicotine slowly over a few hours. Read more about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Which nicotine lozenges are available in New Zealand?

In New Zealand there are 2 brands of nicotine lozenges that you can buy from your pharmacy – Habitrol (1 mg and 2 mg) and Nicorette (2 mg and 4 mg). 

Habitrol is the funded brand, which means you can get it free from a stop-smoking service provider or at a subsidised cost from your pharmacy ($5 for a 4 week supply, with the option of a free repeat). Learn more about how to get NRT.

Dose

Nicotine lozenges are available in different strengths. For best results, make sure you start on the right dose. Your dose of lozenge depends on:

  • how many cigarettes per day you are smoking 
  • how soon after waking you need your first cigarette 
  • other NRT products you are using.

Your health care provider will advise you on the best dose for you.

  • Try to think ahead about when you might get a craving for a cigarette, and then suck a lozenge before the craving happens. This is to ensure that your body gets enough nicotine to ease the withdrawal symptoms you may be feeling.
  • If you are using the lozenges with the nicotine patch, you may not need to use them as frequently because you are getting nicotine from 2 different sources.
  • Don't use more than 1 lozenge at a time or more than 1 lozenge per hour.

How to use nicotine lozenge

Nicotine lozenges are not like regular lollies or sweets – they are not chewed or swallowed. For the best results it is important to use them correctly.

  • Pop the lozenge in your mouth and suck to release the peppery taste. Then rest the lozenge in the side of your mouth, between your cheek and gum.
  • Suck again when the taste starts to fade. You can do this 5 to 6 times over 30 mins, then discard the lozenge safely out of reach of children or pets.
  • Most people use 8 to 12 pieces in 24 hours.
  • Don't chew or swallow the nicotine lozenge. 
  • Avoid acidic drinks such as coffee, fizzy drinks, beer or fruit juice for 15 minutes before and after using the lozenge. 
  • The lozenge also won’t work as well if you take it while eating or drinking.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, NRT can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them and serious side effects are very rare. Most side effects tend to occur within the first 3 to 4 weeks of starting treatment. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Scratchy throat
  • Producing more saliva (spit)
  • Hiccups
  • These are quite common when you first start using the lozenges. 
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Try sucking the lozenge slowly.
  • Let your healthcare provider know if this bothers you.
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
 
  • Tell your healthcare provider if these bother you.
  • Your dose of NRT may need to be adjusted.
  • Dry mouth
  • Gas, bloating, flatulence
  • Tell your healthcare provider if these bother you.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

  1. Nicotine replacement therapy NZ Formulary
  2. NICORETTE® Nicotine Lozenge Nicorette NZ

References

  1. Habitrol Medsafe Product datasheet, NZ 2019
  2. Nicorette Cooldrops lozenge Medsafe Product datasheet, NZ 2019
  3. Nicotine NZ Formulary, 2022
  4. Guide to prescribing nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) Ministry of Health, NZ 2021
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 25 Aug 2022