Nicotine lozenges

Key points about nicotine lozenges

  • Nicotine lozenges are a form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
  • They release nicotine quickly and are useful for helping with cravings.
  • Find out how to use them safely and possible side effects.
Nicotine replacement therapy options being discussed over the counter in a pharmacy 950x690
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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 (eg, the faster–acting lozenge) along with a nicotine patch which releases nicotine slowly over a few hours. Read more about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

In Aotearoa New Zealand there are 2 brands of nicotine lozenges 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.

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're smoking 
  • how soon after waking you need your first cigarette 
  • other NRT products you are using.

Your healthcare 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're using the lozenges with the nicotine patch, you may not need to use them as often because you're getting nicotine from 2 different sources.
  • Don't use more than 1 lozenge at a time or more than 1 lozenge per hour.

Nicotine lozenges are not like regular lollies or sweets – they're not chewed or swallowed. For the best results it's 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 (eg, 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.

Video: Nicotine replacement therapy – gum and lozenges

(Te Whatu Ora | Health Promotion, NZ, 2024)
te reo Māori version(external link)

Video: Lozenges

(StartRightNRT, NZ, 2013)

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.


Read more about medicines and side effects and reporting a reaction that you think might be a side effect.

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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