Nicotine gum was actually the first commercial NRT product sold. Available since the mid-1980’s, the gum originally required a doctor’s prescription. It is now sold all over the world, usually over the counter. In some countries, nicotine gum is available to purchase for children as young as 12 years old and comes in a variety of attractive fruity and candy-like flavors.
The user absorbs nicotine through the soft tissue of the mouth and into the bloodstream as they first chew the gum and then place it between their gums and cheek when it starts to “tingle”. This process repeats until the gum loses it’s potency. Aside from the chewing, the process and result is identical to the method Swedish snus users employ. (Note that snus itself is 99-100 percent safer than smoking.)
A Cochrane Review looking at a variety of studies estimated that the use of NRT like nicotine gum can increase cessation success rates for smokers from about five percent for cold turkey quitting to an average of 7-8 percent. Success rates are improved when combining NRT with either counseling or medication like bupropion (Zyban), or both.