This page contains additional content relating to the article Nicotine patches (Nicabate P, Nicorette, Nicotinell Step 1) for smoking cessation, published 1 February 2011.

Assessing nicotine dependence

To make a rapid assessment of nicotine dependence, ask:
  1. How many minutes after waking do you smoke your first cigarette?
  2. How many cigarettes do you smoke per day?
  3. Have you had cravings and withdrawal symptoms in previous quit attempts?

Nicotine dependence is likely when the patient
  • smokes within 30 minutes of waking or
  • smokes more than 10 cigarettes per day* or
  • has a history of withdrawal symptoms during previous quit attempts.

Patients who have had withdrawal symptoms before can expect to experience them in subsequent attempts.

For a more detailed assessment using the modified Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, see the RACGP smoking cessation guidelines.

* RACGP guidelines state a threshold of 15 cigarettes per day; there is no consensus on the precise number.