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Nicotine Inhaler


A nicotine inhaler looks like a cigarette. It has a cartridge that contains nicotine. You inhale, and nicotine vapour is absorbed into your mouth and throat area. You don't absorb the nicotine into your lungs like you do with a cigarette or an electronic cigarette. As a result, you don't get the same "hit" of nicotine as with smoking.

Do not begin to use an inhaler until you have stopped smoking.

Here's how to use a nicotine inhaler.

  • Read the directions.

    Read and follow the directions that came with the medicine as well as any directions your doctor gave you.

  • Set up the inhaler.

    A nicotine inhaler kit comes with a nicotine inhaler and cartridges that have nicotine. You place a cartridge into the inhaler and pierce the cartridge to release the nicotine.

  • Use the inhaler when you crave a cigarette.
    • When you feel the urge to smoke, hold the inhaler between your fingers and gently draw air into your mouth through the inhaler. Puff into your cheeks. Don’t inhale deeply. Hold the vapour in your mouth for a few seconds before breathing out. It takes many more puffs to get an effect, about 3 to 4 times more puffs than when you smoke a cigarette.
    • Replace the cartridge after about 20 minutes of active puffing. Puffing on the inhaler for 5 minutes at a time will give you enough nicotine for four uses before the cartridge is empty.
  • Monitor your use of the inhaler.
    • Use the nicotine inhaler longer and more often at first. In a few days you will find what works best for you.
    • Most people use 6 to 10 cartridges a day. Your healthcare provider may adjust the number of inhaler cartridges you get during the first weeks. Do not use more than 16 cartridges each day unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so.
    • As your body adjusts to not smoking, your healthcare provider will tell you either to stop using the inhaler or to slowly reduce the dose. Inhalers are usually used for about 12 weeks, and then use is slowly decreased (tapered off).
  • Dispose of empty nicotine cartridges carefully.

    An empty cartridge still contains enough nicotine to make a child or pet very sick.

  • Be aware of safety and other concerns.
    • Clean the mouthpiece regularly with soap and water.
    • Avoid drinking beverages, especially acidic ones (such as coffee, juices, and soda pop), for 15 minutes before and after you use the inhaler.
    • The inhaler does not work properly in temperatures below 10 C (50 F), so it may not be a good choice if you plan to use it outside during winter months in a cold climate.
    • Do not use a nicotine inhaler for more than 6 months.
    • It is possible to become dependent on the nicotine inhaler, but this is rare.
    • There are side effects from using the nicotine inhaler. Read the package insert before you use an inhaler.

What to watch for?

You may be getting too much nicotine if you have:

  • A fast heartbeat.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting (throwing up).
  • Dizziness or weakness.
  • Fainting.
  • Sweating.
  • Blurry vision or trouble hearing.
  • Confusion.
  • Seizures.

If you have any of these after taking the inhaler stop using it and see a doctor right away.

Side effects

Side effects may include:

  • Sore mouth.
  • Coughing.
  • Hiccups.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stomachache.

This may be because the inhaler wasn’t used in the right way. Please review how to use the inhaler.

Call 911 if you have a severe allergic reaction, including swelling in your mouth, a tight feeling in your chest, or trouble breathing. Allergic reactions to nicotine inhalers are very rare.

Talk to your pharmacist about how quitting might affect other medicine you take. Your body may respond to some medicine differently once you stop using tobacco.

Some people have had suicidal thoughts when they try to quit smoking without medicines. Sometimes quitting smoking can lead to some mental health problems you already have, like depression, getting worse.

Before taking any quit-smoking treatment, tell your healthcare provider (doctor, pharmacist, or nurse):

  • If you’ve ever had depression or other mental health problems.
  • About any symptoms or concerns you had other times you tried to quit smoking, with or without medicines.

Related Information


Adaptation Date: 7/17/2023

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.