Approval has been granted for the world's first smokeless and tobacco-free cigarette to go on sale.
According to Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, the NicStic is not a medicinal product and the way has been cleared for its commercial production.
The cigarette will go on sale early in 2006.
The NicStic uses a rechargeable heating coil in a plastic cigarette-sized stick to dispense nicotine without smoke.
Apparently the invention will allow smokers to "light up" without annoying others with passive smoke, and therefore avoid the increasing smoking bans in public places.
Monique Helfer of Swissmedic says if they had classified the NicStic as medication, the manufacturer would have needed to apply to have it covered by health insurance and gain the approval of the Federal Health Office.
That apparently would have taken a lot longer.
The company is promising that the NicStic will release "a similar taste" to cigarettes without the health issues from tar, arsenic, cadmium and formaldehyde that a normal cigarette contains.
However sceptics, among them Janine Messerli from the Swiss Institute for Alcohol and Drug Prevention is critical of NicStic and the Swissmedic decision, and says it is nicotine which makes smoking addictive, and this product does not change that.