Nicotine gum may help some people quit smoking. The starting dosage depends on a person’s typical daily intake of nicotine. People can gradually reduce their dose as their cravings become less intense.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance found in tobacco plants. It is present in all tobacco products and is the reason people experience addiction to these products.

Many people turn to nicotine replacement products, such as gum and patches, to help them quit smoking.

This article discusses how to use nicotine gum safely.

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Nicotine gum is a type of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) intended to help people stop using tobacco products. NRT increases the chance of smoking cessation success by an estimated 50–80%.

Tobacco products also contain thousands of chemicals that cause disease and organ damage. It is the nicotine in these products that makes them so addictive.

Some tobacco products also contain additives such as ammonia that increase the body’s ability to absorb nicotine. Nicotine gum replaces the nicotine found in tobacco products, so people find it easier to stop smoking.

Read about the reasons smoking is bad for you.

People should use nicotine gum when they need it. This can be when a person feels the urge to use a tobacco product or if they are in a situation that might ordinarily cause tobacco cravings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nicotine gum differs from ordinary chewing gum, which a person puts in their mouth and chews. With this approach, the person would swallow the nicotine, and the gum would not have the intended effect.

To ensure the nicotine in NRT gum enters the bloodstream through the blood vessels in the mouth, the CDC provides the following instructions for use:

  • Slowly bite into a piece of nicotine gum and wait for a tingling sensation.
  • Place the gum in one spot between the cheek and the gums.
  • Hold the gum in place for about 1 minute to allow the nicotine to absorb.
  • Repeat the “chew” and “place” steps, using different locations within the mouth, until the gum no longer produces a tingling sensation.

The entire process can take around 30 minutes.

People should replace as many tobacco items as possible with nicotine gum. Once they have switched entirely to gum, they can reduce the number of gum pieces until they no longer use anything containing nicotine.

Useful tips

The CDC also offers the following tips for using nicotine gum:

  • Try to predict when a craving will happen and use the gum before it does.
  • Avoid eating and drinking for 15 minutes before using the gum. Acidic food and drinks such as coffee and soda can impair the gum’s effectiveness.
  • People who use a nicotine patch at the same time as gum may need it less frequently and only when they expect or experience a craving.

Nicotine gum comes in two strengths: 2 milligrams (mg) and 4 mg. The recommended dosage depends on how much tobacco a person typically uses each day and whether they smoke within 30 minutes of waking in the morning.

The CDC offers the following advice:

  • People who have their first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking should begin with a 4 mg dose. Over time — typically 8–12 weeks — they can lower the dose.
  • For the first 6 weeks of quitting, use one piece of gum every 1–2 hours. Nine pieces of gum per day for the first 6 weeks will likely ease withdrawal symptoms.
  • Do not exceed 24 pieces of gum per day. After 6 weeks, a person can reduce their use to one piece every 2–4 hours, then one piece every 4–8 hours.
  • People who smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes per day or are not daily smokers can talk with a healthcare professional about dosage. They may recommend a lower dose and using the gum less often.

If a person uses 4 mg gum pieces, they may find it helpful to try 2 mg pieces before stopping altogether.

Learn more about nicotine.

Anyone who experiences sensitivity to nicotine or other ingredients in the product should not use nicotine gum. People under the age of 18 and anyone who is pregnant or nursing should speak with a doctor before using nicotine gum.

A 2017 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry Residents’ Journal states that nicotine causes cardiovascular effects, including:

These effects increase the heart‘s workload and decrease its blood supply. However, NRT does not link with an increased risk of cardiac events.

This may be because nicotine delivery is slower with gum than with cigarettes. Also, when people replace tobacco products with gum, they will likely consume less nicotine.

Still, some medical conditions may be incompatible with nicotine gum use. They include:

Nicotine may lead to interactions with certain medications, such as:

Research from 2020 indicates that nicotine use increases the chance of opioid addiction.

Cigarette smoking increases the production of the liver enzyme CYP1A2, which affects how the body metabolizes certain drugs. This effect occurs due to the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that exist in tobacco smoke and not because of nicotine.

As a result, if a person smokes more than 10 cigarettes daily and switches from cigarettes to nicotine gum, this may affect their dose of the following medications:

A person taking medication who wants to try nicotine gum should check with a doctor to ensure it is safe.

Nicotine gum may cause side effects, including:

People may experience these side effects if they chew nicotine gum too much or swallow it. Following packet instructions can help avoid side effects. Reducing the dose or frequency of use can also help.

The CDC recommends that people store nicotine gum in a safe location, as it may contain enough nicotine to cause adverse effects in children and pets.

When someone finishes a piece of nicotine gum, they should immediately wrap it in paper and discard it in the trash.

Nicotine gum is a form of nicotine replacement therapy that can help people stop using harmful tobacco products.

The recommended gum dosage depends on how much tobacco the person typically uses daily.

A person wishing to try nicotine gum should speak with a doctor about medication interactions and possible side effects.

Nicotine may be dangerous to children and pets. People should store nicotine gum out of reach and discard it after use.