Combination Nicotine Metered Dose Inhaler and Nicotine Patch for Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Nicotine Tob Res. 2016 Oct;18(10):1944-1951. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntw093. Epub 2016 May 16.


Introduction: In order to replicate the rewarding effects of smoking, nicotine replacement therapies must deliver nicotine via the pulmonary route. We aimed to measure the efficacy of a simple pressurized metered dose inhaler containing nicotine combined with a nicotine patch for smoking cessation.

Methods: Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled, parallel group trial conducted at the University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. Five-hundred two adults (≥18 years) who smoked at least nine cigarettes per day, with a Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence ≥3 who wanted to quit, were randomized (1:1).

Interventions: active nicotine pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI) plus active nicotine patch, versus placebo pMDI plus active nicotine patch. Subjects were instructed to use the aerosols for 6 months when they felt an urge to smoke and the patches daily for 5 months, reduce their smoking and quit by the end of the fourth week. Subjects were followed for 7 months. The primary outcome was prolonged 6 month not smoked on 7 consecutive days, analyzed by intention-to-treat.

Results: For the primary outcome, 78/246 (31.71%) in the active group versus 46/256 (17.97%) in the control group were abstinent (odds ratio 2.12, 95% confidence interval 1.40 to 3.23). Adverse events were reported by 245/246 (99.6%) and 247/256 (96.5%) subjects in the active and control groups, respectively. Mild coughing which decreased with regular use was common with the nicotine aerosols.

Conclusion: Inhaled nicotine from a metered dose inhaler combined with a nicotine patch substantially improves abstinence for 6 months amongst adult nicotine dependant smokers wanting to quit.

Implications: In 2012, we published a systematic review of the use nicotine by inhalation in this journal. At that time we were unable to find any studies that had measured the effects of nicotine delivery by pMDI on smoking cessation, and we are not aware of any since 2012. Our study is the first to look at nicotine by pMDI in smoking cessation. The present trial demonstrates that a simple nonproprietary nicotine inhaler, using relatively inexpensive standard technology, increases smoking cessation rates over and above nicotine patch therapy, and could usefully enhance nicotine replacement in smoking cessation treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metered Dose Inhalers
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Nicotine

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12609000481279