Temporal effects of nicotine nasal spray and gum on nicotine withdrawal symptoms

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Nov;140(1):98-104. doi: 10.1007/s002130050744.


Nicotine nasal spray and nicotine gum have been found to be effective in relieving nicotine withdrawal symptoms. In this randomized single-blind study, 91 cigarette smokers were randomly assigned to a single 1 mg dose of active nicotine nasal spray (n=29), active 4 mg nicotine gum (n=31), saline placebo nasal spray (n=16) or placebo gum (n=15). Following overnight abstinence, subjects repeatedly completed visual analog scales for assessing nicotine withdrawal symptoms over 30 min preceding (time -30 min to time 0) and 120 min following a single dose of study medication. This sequence was performed 3 times during the day. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms were assessed on a 41-point visual analog scale (1=no withdrawal, 41=extreme withdrawal). At the initial session only, blood samples for serum nicotine levels were taken at baseline, then at 5, 10, 30 and 120 min following study drug administration. The mean (+/-SD) age of the subjects was 38.6 (+/-10.1) years, 48% were females, smoking rate was 24.5 (+/-7.8) cigarettes per day, and years of smoking was 19.9 (+/-10.0). A single 1 mg dose of nicotine nasal spray provided more immediate relief for craving for a cigarette compared to a single 4 mg dose of nicotine gum. Serum venous nicotine levels for the active nicotine nasal spray and nicotine gum were comparable at 5 and 10 min while the levels were higher for nicotine gum at 30 and 120 min. Changes in withdrawal symptoms were not found to be related to serum venous nicotine levels. Our findings provide a rationale for the as needed use of nicotine nasal spray to control withdrawal symptoms, possibly in combination with other medications with longer acting effects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Nicotine / blood
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*


  • Nicotine