NicoDerm® CQ® FAQs

We pulled together the most-asked questions about NicoDerm CQ to make it a little easier for you to get the information you need. However, if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, feel free to contact us here.

Questions about using NicoDerm CQ

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

    Choose a start date for your quit and begin to use NicoDerm CQ that day. Upon reviewing the published literature data on use of NRT products like NicoDerm CQ, the FDA has determined that the use of NRT products with cigarettes does not raise significant concerns. 

    Consult the user’s guide for complete directions and other important information.

  • Can I smoke while wearing the NicoDerm CQ patch?

    Begin using NicoDerm CQ on your quit day. If you slip up and have a cigarette while using NicoDerm CQ, it need not spoil your efforts. The FDA has determined that there are no significant concerns with using NRT products like NicoDerm CQ at the same time as another nicotine-containing product like a cigarette. But your goal must be to quit smoking entirely. Throw away your cigarettes, forgive yourself and continue using NicoDerm CQ. In fact, people who already tried to quit are more likely to be successful the next time.

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

    It is ok if you slip up and have a cigarette while trying to quit smoking. Forgive yourself and stop at that one cigarette. Throw out your cigarettes and continue using Nicoderm CQ with your quit attempt. NicoDerm CQ is FDA approved and has helped millions in their attempt to quit smoking.* If you slip up and start smoking again, it is no reason to fear and it doesn’t need to spoil your quit. 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.

    *Based on GSK sales data.

  • Can I drink alcohol if I am wearing NicoDerm CQ?

    Right after quitting you should try to avoid alcohol, coffee and other beverages you associate with smoking.

  • How long should I use NicoDerm CQ?

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

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

    Talk to your doctor to find an option for you.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Why did NicoDerm CQ’s directions for use change?

    After reviewing scientific research on the safety of NRT products sold over the counter (OTC), the FDA has determined that some warnings and limitations specified in the directions for use on the labels of these products are no longer necessary to make sure they are used appropriately to quit smoking.1 You can read the FDA statement here.

    1 FDA Consumer Health Information, Nicotine replacement therapy labels may change. April 2013. Available at  http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm345087.htm.

  • 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.

General NicoDerm CQ Questions

  • Where can I buy NicoDerm CQ?

    NicoDerm CQ can be purchased through many local retailers.

  • 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.

  • 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 helps reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which can include things like depressed mood, insomnia, irritability, frustration, anxiety, and restlessness. And since the benefit of quitting smoking is such a positive thing for your body and mind, you should start to feel better, both physically and emotionally, because of the decision you’ve made.

  • 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 the program is designed to allow your body to gradually adjust to having less nicotine until you don’t need any.

  • What Is NicoDerm CQ?

    NicoDerm CQ is a unique patch with Extended 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 reduce the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking. 

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

    In 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 FDA and recommended by authoritative clinical guidelines as a first-line medication for the treatment of tobacco dependence.

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

    NicoDerm CQ is clinically tested and has been reviewed and approved by 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 over time, helping to break the body’s physical dependence on it. When used as directed, and in conjunction with a behavioral support program, NicoDerm CQ has also been shown to double a smoker’s chances of quitting versus placebo.

  • 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 committedquitters.nicodermcq.com.

  • Does Clear NicoDerm CQ or Opaque NicoDerm CQ contain latex?

    No, neither patch contains any latex material.

  • Is Clear NicoDerm CQ the same as Opaque NicoDerm CQ?

    The adhesive, the nicotine amounts, and the way you use the products are exactly the same. However, for opaque patch only, to avoid possible burns, remove patch before undergoing any MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) procedures.

Questions about applying NicoDerm CQ

  • 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. Each day apply a new patch to a different place on skin that is dry, clean and hairless.

  • Can I cut the NicoDerm CQ patch?

    No, do not cut the patch in half or into smaller pieces.

  • 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 16 or 24 hours, remove the patch you have been wearing. Fold sticky ends of used NicoDerm CQ patch together. Replace in its pouch and 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.

  • Can the NicoDerm CQ patch get wet?

    Water will not harm the NicoDerm CQ patch if applied properly. 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.

  • 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.

  • What if my skin is sensitive?

    Ask a doctor before use if you have an allergy to adhesive tape or have skin problems because you are more likely to get rashes. Stop use and ask a doctor if skin redness caused by the patch does not go away after four days, or if your skin swells, or you get a rash.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • What if my skin is very hairy?

    Choose a non-hairy, clean, dry area of skin.

Questions about nicotine and quitting smoking

  • 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.

  • 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. The NicoDerm CQ program is designed to help you stop smoking. It helps you gradually wean off of nicotine over time until you do not need it anymore.

  • 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.

  • 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 mistakes. 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.


  • What if I need extra support to help me quit?

    If you need more inspiration, tips and advice to help you stay on your quit journey, we’re here to help. Sign up for our email support program today and we’ll deliver extra support, right to your inbox.