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Using the patch

Once you've bought the patches, you should set a quit date.

One patch is used per day. When applying the patch, make sure you press it onto a dry, hairless area of skin for about 10 seconds, to make sure it sticks properly. After it's on, wash and dry your hands thoroughly to avoid getting nicotine in your eyes or nose. Do not use soap, as this may increase the amount of nicotine absorbed through your hands.

The pack or Consumer Medicine Information sheet that comes with the patches will tell you how many weeks to use them, and when to switch down to lower strength patches. The programs vary between 10 and 16 weeks. If you didn't get this sheet or you've lost it, ask your pharmacist for this leaflet.

Research shows that using patches for eight weeks works as well as using them for longer. Highly addicted smokers who still have cravings and withdrawal symptoms eight weeks after quitting may benefit from longer use. There is no evidence that switching down to smaller patches in later weeks is better than simply stopping use after finishing the course of larger patches.

Remember: The nicotine patch is a medicine and you should use it according to the advice from your pharmacist or doctor.

Using the patch before quitting

If you usually smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day, you may use a type of patch (branded a "Pre-Quit" patch) while reducing your smoking for two weeks before your quit date. This patch is a 21mg 24hour patch. On your quit date you may then continue to use a regular patch or combination therapy. Evidence suggests that this method improves your chance of quitting over starting use of a nicotine patch from your quit date. 

Smokers who smoke less than 15 cigarettes per day, or have cardiovascular disease, or weigh less than 45 kg, should not use a patch while continuing to smoke.

Unlike using the inhaler, gum or lozenge when smoking, smokers who use the patch while smoking tend to have increased nicotine blood levels compared to smoking alone. However, evidence suggests that smoking while using the patch is safe for eligible smokers, and nicotine from medications does not appear to add to the health risks of smoking. There have been no reports of serious side effects from using the nicotine patch while smoking in studies. Symptoms from too much nicotine (nicotine overdose) are rare, and are described in the Consumer Medicine Information (pack insert).

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