Stop smoking gum works by releasing small amounts of nicotine in a person’s bloodstream to help reduce the cravings he has for cigarettes while he attempts to quit smoking. At first, a person chews the gum at frequent intervals in order to keep comfortable levels of nicotine in his body and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Gradually, however, the periods between doses of stop-smoking gum are extended in an effort to wean a cigarette smoker off of nicotine. In time, a person may have far fewer nicotine cravings and may no longer need either the stop-smoking gum or cigarettes.
When a person uses stop-smoking gum, it’s not meant to be a replacement for cigarette smoking. Instead, it is supposed to help a person quit smoking by controlling his cravings. The cravings a person feels when he quits smoking are usually not for the tobacco in the cigarette but instead for an addictive chemical substance called nicotine. Stop-smoking gum contains lower levels of nicotine than cigarettes do, but this amount is usually enough to help control cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, anger, and anxiousness. Essentially, this type of gum helps make quitting smoking easier.
When a person chews stop-smoking gum, nicotine in the gum is released and travels to the person’s bloodstream. It travels through the lining of a person’s mouth rather than through the digestive system. The gum may also prove satisfying for some people who miss the feel of holding a cigarette between their lips. It gives them a way to occupy their mouths.
In many cases, a person who is trying to quit smoking with stop-smoking gum starts off by chewing a piece of gum every one to two hours. Within several weeks, he may be able to cut back to chewing a piece of gum every two to three hours. After about three months, many people are able to cut back to chewing a piece of gum every four to eight hours. With enough time, their cravings for nicotine may be reduced enough that they do not need the gum or cigarettes.
There is a particular way to use nicotine gum in an effort to quit smoking. Usually, a person chews the gum in order to release its nicotine content but then allows the chewing gum to rest close to his cheek, between his cheek and his gum tissue. This is called "parking," and it positions the gum well for absorption of the nicotine through the lining of the mouth.