Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) | NicoDerm CQ

Questions About Using NicoDerm® CQ®

General NicoDerm CQ Questions

Questions About Applying the NicoDerm CQ Patch

Questions About Nicotine and Quitting Smoking

How long after my last cigarette should I wait before I begin using NicoDerm CQ?

We recommend choosing a start date for your quit and beginning the use of NicoDerm CQ that day, even if you are unable to immediately stop smoking completely. The FDA has said that there are no significant safety concerns with using NRT products like NicoDerm CQ at the same time as another nicotine-containing product, like a cigarette. The important thing is that you are committed to your quit and set your plan for how you will eventually stop smoking completely.

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Can I smoke while wearing the NicoDerm CQ patch?

If you slip up and have a cigarette, it need not spoil your efforts. Throw away your cigarettes, forgive yourself and continue with the program. Don't consider yourself a failure or punish yourself. In fact, people who already tried to quit are more likely to be successful the next time. The FDA has announced that there are no significant safety concerns associated with using products like NicoDerm CQ at the same time as another nicotine-containing product like a cigarette.1

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What if I slip up while I'm using the NicoDerm CQ patch?

No problem. Forgive yourself, discard your cigarette and then get back on track. Try to recognize what made you slip and, this time, try harder to say on track. If you feel like you're slipping and want some extra help to stop smoking, use our cool quitting tools to get over the temptation. Also, give some thought to joining Committed Quitters. Committed Quitters is a free, custom tailored plan to help you break your psychological addiction to smoking — while NicoDerm CQ fights the physical addiction. To get your Plan, call toll free 1-800-770-0708 or enroll online at

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Can I drink alcohol if I am wearing NicoDerm CQ?

You can safely drink in moderation. But to reduce the risk of a smoking relapse, you may want to avoid drinking alcohol if you associate it with smoking.

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How long should I use NicoDerm CQ?

You should use NicoDerm CQ for the full 8 to 10 weeks, depending on which step you start with. Sticking with the full program will improve your chances of success. If you feel you need to use NicoDerm CQ for longer than 8 to 10 weeks in order to keep from smoking, talk with your health care provider. The FDA agrees that in most cases it's safe to continue using NRT beyond the recommended timeframe on the box in order to quit. Talk to your health care provider if you continue to use NicoDerm CQ for longer than 8 to 10 weeks.

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Can I use NicoDerm CQ to help quit chewing tobacco, smoking cigars or using a pipe?

No. NicoDerm CQ has not been evaluated for treating chewing tobacco, cigar or pipe smoking dependence. Talk with your doctor to find a product that is right for your circumstance.

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What happens when I step down?

When you gradually lower nicotine levels, your body adjusts. And following NicoDerm CQ's 10- or 8-week program really does help improve your chances of quitting successfully.

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Can I use NicoDerm CQ if I'm pregnant or nursing?

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, only use this medicine on the advice of your health care provider. Smoking can seriously harm your child. Try to stop smoking without using any nicotine replacement medicine. This medicine is believed to be safer than smoking. However, the risks to your child from this medicine are not fully known.

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Can I use NicoDerm CQ if I have a medical condition?

If you are concerned, your doctor or pharmacist is the best person to advise you based on your medical history and present state of health. We specifically recommend you ask a doctor before use if you have:

  • Heart disease, recent heart attack or irregular heartbeat. Nicotine can increase your heart rate.
  • High blood pressure not controlled with medication. Nicotine can increase your blood pressure.
  • An allergy to adhesive tape or have skin problems, because you are more likely to get rashes.

Also, ask a doctor or pharmacist before using if you are:

  • Using a non-nicotine stop smoking drug.
  • Using prescription medicine for depression or asthma. Your prescription dose may need to be adjusted.
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Can I use NicoDerm CQ if I take other medications?

Any questions about drug interactions between medications should be answered by your physician or other health care professional. Talk to your doctor if you take other medications. The active ingredient in NicoDerm CQ is nicotine, which is already in your system if you are a smoker. Talk to your doctor about this, especially if you use a non-nicotine stop smoking drug or take prescription drugs for asthma or depression.

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Why did NicoDerm CQ's directions for use change?

After 20 years of testing and more than 117 clinical trials involving over 50,000 smokers, the FDA has announced that stop smoking aids like Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ do not have significant potential for abuse or dependence.1 You can read the FDA statement here.

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Has the formulation of NicoDerm CQ changed?

No. Only the directions for how you can use NRT have changed. Some stores may not yet have packages with the new directions for use on their shelves. However, the product is exactly the same. You can use any NRT product following the new guidelines.

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Which strength is right for me?

If you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, follow the 10-week plan. Use NicoDerm CQ Step 1 (21 mg) for 6 weeks, NicoDerm CQ Step 2 (14 mg) for 2 weeks, and NicoDerm CQ Step 3 (7 mg) for 2 weeks.

If you smoke 10 or fewer cigarettes a day, follow the 8-week plan. Use Step 2 (14 mg) for 6 weeks and Step 3 (7 mg) for 2 weeks.

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How will I feel when I stop smoking and start using NicoDerm CQ?

Quitting smoking isn't easy. But you'll feel a lot better than you would if you quit "cold turkey." That's because the NicoDerm CQ patch really helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which include things like cravings, mood changes, headaches, sleeplessness and drowsiness.

And since the benefit of quitting smoking is such a positive thing for your body and mind, you should soon start to feel better, both physically and emotionally, because of the decision you've made.

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How does NicoDerm CQ work?

Each NicoDerm CQ patch contains a special nicotine rate-controlling membrane that controls the release of nicotine into your bloodstream through your skin. The level of nicotine uptake is lower than that of cigarettes, and allows your body to gradually adjust to having less nicotine until you don't need any.

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What is NicoDerm CQ?

NicoDerm CQ is a unique patch with Time Release SmartControl® Technology that helps prevent the urge to smoke all day long. NicoDerm CQ supports you through your day by delivering therapeutic nicotine via the patch's specially designed layers. This technology ensures that the nicotine in the patch will not be delivered all at once, or run out too soon. NicoDerm CQ helps with the side effects associated with quitting smoking, such as irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and restlessness.

NicoDerm CQ is FDA approved and has helped millions in their quit attempt.* Keep using NicoDerm CQ even if you slip up and have a cigarette. The FDA agrees it's better to keep trying. If you slip up and start smoking again, it is no reason to fear and it doesn't need to spoil your quit. Throw away your cigarettes, forgive yourself and continue with the program because getting right back on NicoDerm CQ after a slip-up increases your chances of successfully quitting versus those who do not get back on the patch when they slip up.

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Didn't a recent study show e-cigarettes were just as effective as the nicotine patch in helping smokers quit?

The ASCEND Trial of 657 Auckland, New Zealand, smokers with a primary endpoint of 6-month smoking cessation failed to show e-cigarettes were statistically significantly superior either to nicotine patch or to placebo e-cigarettes. The trial is the first and only direct comparison of a nicotine patch to one brand of e-cigarettes. The NicoDerm CQ patch was not the patch assessed in this study.

NicoDerm CQ is a proven smoking cessation aid that's approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by authoritative clinical guidelines as a first-line medication for the treatment of tobacco dependence.

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What is the difference between e-cigarettes and NicoDerm CQ?

NicoDerm CQ is clinically tested and has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a stop-smoking medication. E-cigarettes are not medicinal products and have not been approved by FDA, nor are they currently regulated by FDA.

NicoDerm CQ is specifically designed as a step-down therapy to help wean smokers off of nicotine gradually. When used as directed, nicotine patches deliver lower and lower amounts of nicotine, helping to break the body's physical dependence on it. NicoDerm CQ has also been shown to double a smoker's chances of quitting versus placebo.

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What does CQ stand for?

CQ stands for Committed Quitters. Committed Quitters is a free, individualized stop-smoking plan that helps break the psychological addiction to smoking by offering customized advice on how to cope with situations that may tempt the quitter to smoke. Studies show that personally tailored behavioral support increases the chances of successfully changing behavior. Information on joining can be found inside each box of NicoDerm CQ or online at

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Does Clear NicoDerm CQ or Opaque NicoDerm CQ contain latex?

No, neither patch contains any latex material.

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Is Clear NicoDerm CQ the same as Opaque NicoDerm CQ?

Yes. The adhesive, the nicotine amounts, and the way you use the products are exactly the same.

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Does the patch need to be placed on my arm?

No, NicoDerm CQ can be placed anywhere on the body that is clean and dry at the time of application. Feel free to place the patch on a non-hairy area, such as your thigh, stomach, back, wherever you prefer. The only places we would suggest that you avoid are your joints (ankles, knees, elbows, etc.) since the constant movement of these areas would make it difficult for the patch to stick.

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Can I cut the NicoDerm CQ patch?

No, this is not recommended. If the rate controlling membrane that delivers nicotine is altered in any way, the nicotine delivery will be very unpredictable.

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How do I apply the NicoDerm CQ patch?

Step 1: Do not remove the NicoDerm CQ patch from its sealed protective pouch until you are ready to use it. NicoDerm CQ patches will lose nicotine to the air if you store them out of the pouch.

Step 2: Choose a non-hairy, clean, dry area of skin. Do not put a NicoDerm CQ patch on skin that is burned, broken out, cut or irritated in any way. Make sure your skin is free of lotion or soap.

Step 3: Take patch out of the pouch. Save pouch for use at time of disposal. A clear, protective liner covers the sticky side of the NicoDerm CQ patch — the side that will be put on the skin. The liner has a slit down the middle to help you remove it from the patch. With the sticky side facing you, pull half the liner away from the NicoDerm CQ patch starting at the middle slit. Hold the NicoDerm CQ patch at one of the outside edges (touch the sticky side as little as possible), and pull off the other half of the protective liner. Place liner back in the pouch. Save pouch for disposing of the patch after use.

Step 4: Immediately apply the sticky side of the NicoDerm CQ patch to your skin. Press the patch firmly on your skin with the heel of your hand for at least 10 seconds. Make sure it sticks well to your skin, especially around the edges.

Step 5: Wash your hands when you have finished applying the NicoDerm CQ patch. Nicotine on your hands could get into your eyes and nose, and cause stinging, redness or more serious problems.

Step 6: After 24 or 16 hours, remove the patch you have been wearing. Fold sticky ends of used NicoDerm CQ patch together. Discard where it will be out of reach of children and pets. Even used patches have enough nicotine to poison children and pets. Wash your hands.

Step 7: Choose a different place on your skin to apply the next NicoDerm CQ patch and repeat Steps 1 to 6. Do not apply a new patch to a previously used skin site for at least one week.

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Can the NicoDerm CQ patch get wet?

Water will not harm the NicoDerm CQ patch. You can bathe, swim or shower for short periods of time while wearing the NicoDerm CQ patch. If you're concerned that it could loosen on your skin, you can secure it with two pieces of medical or sports tape, placed in an "X" over the patch.

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Can NicoDerm CQ be placed over a tattoo?

We suggest wearing the patch on a part of your body that is not tattooed. It is unknown whether the tattoo would affect how the patch would work, or if the tattoo coloring would change.

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What if my skin is sensitive?

If you have a skin disease, rashes, or allergies to adhesives, check with your doctor before using NicoDerm CQ. If a skin rash develops, or if the skin under the patch becomes swollen or very red, stop using NicoDerm CQ and see your doctor.

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Why aren't my patches sticking?

We understand how frustrating it is when your patch does not stick. Lack of adhesion may be attributed to hot weather, patient skin type or activity. Please be sure you have applied the patch properly: Choose a non-hairy, clean, dry area of skin. Press the patch firmly on your skin with the heel of your hand for at least 10 seconds. Make sure it sticks well to your skin, especially around the edges. Do not use moisturizing soap or lotion prior to applying the patch. If you are using a moisturizing soap, try changing soaps or apply medical adhesive tape over the patch to help keep it in place.

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Can NicoDerm CQ be worn in a tanning bed?

The Original and Clear NicoDerm CQ patches can be worn while in the sun or tanning bed. However, the patches have not been demonstrated to be effective protection against sun exposure. Use of sunscreens with the patch is not recommended because it may affect the adhesion. Therefore, if you are planning on using the patch while tanning, you may want to place it in an area that will not be exposed.

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What if my skin is very hairy?

If you need to, you can shave a small area of skin and apply NicoDerm CQ to it. But make sure the area is not nicked or irritated.

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How much nicotine do I receive from a cigarette?

Your body receives approximately 1 milligram of nicotine from each cigarette. Remember the nicotine from cigarettes is absorbed very quickly and goes straight from the lungs to the brain.

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If nicotine is the problem, why should I wear a nicotine patch?

NicoDerm CQ doesn't contain any of the carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) that are found in cigarettes. This is why NicoDerm CQ is sold without a doctor's prescription, and why it has helped millions of smokers quit. NicoDerm CQ gives you a reduced amount of nicotine to help calm your cravings and irritability so you can focus on the emotional aspects of your habit. With NicoDerm CQ, you use less and less nicotine until you're not using any.

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Will I gain weight if I quit smoking?

When it comes to quitting smoking, weight gain is the #1 concern of women and the #2 concern of men. Even if you do gain a bit, it's nothing compared to all the good things you're doing for yourself. If you continue to gain weight after a few months, try to analyze what you're doing differently. Reduce your fat intake, choose healthy snacks, and increase your physical activity to burn off the extra calories. Drink lots of water. This is good for your body and skin.

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I've tried to quit smoking several times, but it's never worked. Why can't I quit?

You can. You just haven't succeeded yet. Even if you've made it a day, a week, or a month — you've made it. Try to learn from your mistake. Figure out why you fell off the wagon so you can avoid putting yourself in similar situations in the future, choose a new quit date, and then try again. This time, you may be able to quit for good!

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