Tobacco and lighter giant Swedish Match is believed to be developing the first nicotine chewing-gum for smokers who are not trying to kick the habit.
It will be sold as a convenient way for smokers to get a nicotine “hit” in non-smoking environments, such as public transport, according to a source at Swedish Match.
But some industry observers believe it may cause addiction among non-smokers.
Amanda Sandford of Action on Smoking and Health says: “We would welcome anything that gives smokers a safer way of getting nicotine. But there is also a worry that young people might become addicted to nicotine by using it.”
Unlike Pharmacia & Upjohn’s Nicorette and other nicotine gums, the Swedish Match product will not be marketed as a medicinal stop smoking aid.
The product, which will be developed with US partner Gumtech International, is likely to be sold in a range of strengths and flavours in tobacconists shops and supermarkets.
A Gumtech spokesman confirmed the company was in discussions with Swedish Match about non-tobacco nicotine gum products, but said no contracts had been signed.