The gum is designed to be chewed on a specific schedule and then as needed to help with cravings. It has to be used the correct way for it to work! New quitters often don't use enough gum to get its benefits. They either chew too few pieces per day and/or don’t use it long enough.
First, choose the right strength. It’s based on how much you smoke each day.
If you smoke your first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up, start with the 4 mg. strength.
If your first cigarette of the day comes later, start with the 2 mg. strength.
Then follow this schedule:
Weeks 1 to 6: Chew 1 piece of gum every 1 to 2 hours, or whenever you get a craving. To increase your chances of quitting, chew at least 9 pieces a day for these first 6 weeks. But don’t chew more than 24 pieces a day.
Weeks 7 to 9: Chew 1 piece of gum every 2 to 4 hours. Don’t chew more than 24 pieces a day.
Weeks 10 to 12: Chew 1 piece of gum every 4 to 8 hours. Don’t chew more than 24 pieces a day.
The way you chew the gum also matters. Nicotine gum isn’t like regular gum, and it will only help you quit if you do it the right way. Use the “chew and park” method:
- Chew the gum slowly until you can taste the nicotine or feel a tingling sensation in your mouth.
- Stop chewing and “park” the gum between your cheek and gum as the nicotine is absorbed.
- After about a minute, when the tingling is almost gone, start chewing again.
- Repeat this process until the tingle is all gone (about 30 minutes).
- Throw away the gum in a place that’s out of reach of kids and pets.
Don’t eat or drink anything for 15 minutes before chewing the gum, and don’t have any food or drinks while it’s in your mouth. Many foods and drinks can keep the nicotine from fully entering your bloodstream.
Medical review: Nathan Cobb, MD, September 25, 2017
Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.