Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Drug Policy. 2015 Jun;26(6):536-42. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.02.002. Epub 2015 Feb 24.

Nicorette reborn? E-cigarettes in light of the history of nicotine replacement technology.

Author information

Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Box 720, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. Electronic address:



E-cigarettes are currently hotly debated as threatening to re-normalize cigarette smoking and make nicotine addiction publicly acceptable once more. In this paper I contextualize the e-cigarette controversy in light of longstanding disagreements about the meaning and significance of nicotine replacement technologies. A concerted effort to develop such technologies first emerged in Sweden at the end of the 1960s, embodying a vital tension. Two competing 'scripts' vied to influence and shape innovative designs. On the one hand, Nicorette chewing gum was conceived as a therapeutic device aiding smoking cessation. On the other hand, it was cast as a cigarette substitute designed to deliver nicotine 'in the right way', thereby advancing the creative destruction of the combustible cigarette as a drug delivery platform.


Drawing on historical and archival research I outline how these two alternative innovation scripts started out entangled with each other before becoming disentangled, leading to the eventual stabilization of Nicorette gum as a therapeutic product to be deployed in the treatment of smoking as a dependence disorder.


While a post-therapeutic future for nicotine replacement was charted by Michael Russell at the beginning of the 1990s, it is only with the rise of e-cigarettes after 2003 that such a future has started to verge on reality. E-cigarettes can be seen as resurrecting the historically marginalized script of nicotine replacement as dedicated to righting nicotine consumption and freeing it from the wrongful drug delivery of the modern cigarette.


Addiction; Cigarette smoking; E-cigarettes; Innovation scripts; Nicorette; Nicotine replacement technology; Sweden

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center