Rauchen aufhören - Mann zerbricht Zigarette

Nicotine patches vs. e-cigarettes: The most effective nicotine replacement for withdrawal symptoms

There are various aids that provide a substitute for the loss of nicotine intake during smoking cessation. On the one hand there are traditional nicotine replacement products such as patches and sprays and on the other hand there are modern tools such as e-cigarettes containing nicotine. But which method provides the most effective support for quitting smoking?
The "smoker lung": cause, symptoms and therapy Reading Nicotine patches vs. e-cigarettes: The most effective nicotine replacement for withdrawal symptoms 6 minutes Next With effective behavioral therapy to stop smoking — How to become a non-smoker

More than 60 percent of all smokers want to quit. Many try the cold turkey approach at least once, but because of the distressing withdrawal symptoms, most either give up trying altogether or turn to nicotine replacement products as an alternative. In this article, we look at two of the most commonly used replacement therapies, the nicotine patch and the e-cigarette, to find out which is more effective.


  • Understanding cigarette addiction
  • How nicotine patches work for smoking cessation
  • Quitting smoking with the e-cigarette
  • Nicotine patches vs. e-cigarettes - analysis provides results
  • Conclusion: What is the most effective nicotine replacement?

Understanding cigarette addiction

Cigarette addiction is caused by a complex interplay of different factors:

  • The nicotine found in cigarettes releases dopamine in the brain, making you feel happy and relaxed. In less than two hours, more than 50 percent of the nicotine is broken down, which is why your body needs more nicotine to be able to experience the feeling of well-being again. You reach for the cigarette over and over again and a vicious circle is created.
  • Other ingredients in tobacco such as MAO inhibitors, which are also used in antidepressants, also ensure a higher level of happiness hormones.
  • The smoking ritual - reaching for a cigarette in certain situations, e.g., while drinking a cup of coffee in the morning or experiencing stress at work - makes positive moments even better and negative situations less bad. The more often the cycle is repeated, the more the behavioral pattern embeds itself in our day-to-day life. 
  • The throat hit, a slight scratchy sensation in the throat, is caused by cigarette smoke and is considered by many to be very pleasant.

Tip: For more information on the complexities of cigarette addiction, read our article “ The First Step to Quitting Smoking: Understanding Tobacco Addiction ”.

Cigarettes are both physically and psychologically  addictive.

How nicotine patches work for smoking cessation

Quit smoking: when nicotine patches, chewing gum & Co. help - ÖKO-TEST

Nicotine patches are a common way to help people quit smoking. They work by continuously releasing nicotine (12 or 24 hour patches) which is absorbed through the skin in small amounts to counteract distressing withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine passes through the skin into the bloodstream and from there to the brain, where it stimulates receptors normally activated by smoking cigarettes. The dosage of nicotine is reduced until the nicotine patches are no longer needed.

Due to the slow kinetics of nicotine release (also known as flooding) through the skin and the reduced nicotine content in the blood, nicotine patches often do not give smokers a satisfactory feeling. In addition, nicotine patches and similar nicotine replacement therapies fail to satisfy the ritual of smoking, which is an important component of the addiction mechanism.

Similar to nicotine gum, lozenges and smoking cessation sprays, nicotine patches can partially alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal, but are very “far removed” from the reality of smokers and only focus on the physical component of addiction. It is therefore not surprising that the success rate for quitting smoking with nicotine patches is less than 10 percent.

How to quit smoking with e-cigarettes

Quitting smoking with the e-cigarette

E-cigarettes, or “vaporizers”, are the most popular smoking cessation tool in Germany. Unlike traditional nicotine replacement products such as patches, sprays and gum, they not only treat the nicotine component of addiction, but offer many benefits as a smoking cessation aid:

  • Easy Transition: Vaporizers offer a similar experience to traditional cigarettes as they simulate the feel and taste of smoking. This maintains both the coveted throat hit and smoking habits, making cessation easier.
  • Efficient nicotine absorption: The nicotine continues to be inhaled through the lungs via the e-cigarette - the most efficient way of nicotine absorption.
  • Reduction of the amount of nicotine: Many manufacturers of e-cigarettes make it possible to reduce the amount of nicotine that is consumed. E-liquids come in a variety of nicotine strengths so you can wean yourself off the substance slowly without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine patches vs. e-cigarettes - Analysis comes to a clear result

An analysis by the international research network Cochrane shows that e-cigarettes are more effective in stopping smoking than conventional nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, sprays or chewing gum. The Cochrane review includes 78 studies with over 22,000 participants and also indicates that e-cigarettes containing nicotine are more effective than nicotine-free vaporizers or smoking cessation aids without nicotine-containing aids.

The rationale: E-cigarettes maintain conditioned behavior because they can be used in familiar smoking situations. In addition, the nicotine is still delivered through the lungs and the throat hit is maintained by the vapor generated when using the vaporizer.

Although switching from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes during smoking cessation is much more effective than using nicotine patches, many smokers have not yet achieved their goal of completely breaking free from their addiction. Numerous clinical studies show that behavioral therapy should be carried out in parallel with the cessation of smoking in order to break unhealthy behavior and master the long-term cessation of smoking.

The non-smoking program nuumi combines a vaporizer with an app

This is exactly where the smart non-smoking program nuumi comes in. Nuumi combines a smart vaporizer that gently reduces your nicotine intake until you finally stop consuming nicotine, with scientifically based behavioral training to achieve long-term smoking cessation. Unlike traditional nicotine replacement therapies, nuumi not only treats the physical but also the psychological components of addiction, increasing the probability of quitting smoking by up to 83 percent.

Tip: Create your personal non-smoking program now and finally stop smoking - without relapses or typical withdrawal symptoms. Go to our configurator.

Conclusion: What is the most effective nicotine replacement?

E-cigarettes are twice as effective as nicotine patches at quitting smoking. This is because various components of cigarette addiction, such as the throat hit, nicotine delivery through the lungs, and the smoking ritual, can be sustained for the time being. However, the goal of many smokers to combat their nicotine addiction won't be achieved by simply using an e-cigarette. Behavior change must take place in order to holistically overcome addiction. The intelligent non-smoking program nuumi works particularly well here, as it combines gentle nicotine cessation with a smart vaporizer and scientific behavioral training, thus offering a holistic solution to combating the addiction.