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What is a Nicotine Inhaler?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated Jan 21, 2024
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The nicotine inhaler is a stop-smoking tool that mimics the look and feel of a cigarette. It delivers into a person’s mouth a smaller amount of nicotine than a real cigarette does, allowing the person to work on quitting smoking. Nicotine inhalers usually contain menthol that is released when the inhaler is puffed on.

An inhaler does not use fire and heat to give a person nicotine the way a cigarette does. The nicotine vapor is instead delivered when a smoker sucks air in through the device. A smaller but still helpful amount of nicotine is absorbed into the lining of the mouth, giving the smoker what he is addicted to but eliminating the carcinogens and tar contained in a cigarette. Many doctors believe the inhaler is much safer than real cigarettes because of this.

Inhalers are often packaged with about 42 cartridges and plastic case in which to put the thin inhaler. Each cartridge allows for up to 400 puffs and expires 24 hours after it has been opened. The number of puffs a person takes generally lessens over time as the person becomes less reliant on the nicotine. Nicotine inhalers are available by prescription from a doctor and are not recommended for use longer than six months.

There are a few side effects of using nicotine inhalers, including heart burn, coughing, and burning of the throat and nose. Some people may also experience mouth irritation and an upset stomach. If a person does not puff enough on the nicotine inhaler, he may also experience symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Many of these effects will disappear over time.

This product is not recommended for people who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, angina, coronary heart disease, active peptic ulcers and many other conditions. It is also not recommended that people continue smoking cigarettes while they are using the nicotine inhaler. People who are interested in using the nicotine inhaler should speak to their doctor to see if it is the correct cessation method for them.

Many people who use nicotine gum, patches and lozenges are not always successful in their quest to quit smoking. The nicotine inhaler, when combined with behavioral therapy, seems to have better results, according to research. Researchers believe the reason for this is that the inhaler delivers the nicotine a smoker craves while allowing the smoker to hold something in his or her hand, as one would with a real cigarette.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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