A British inventor has come up with a so-called “safe” cigarette: It’s a nicotine inhaler shaped like a cigarette that delivers doses of the addictive chemical equal to those of cigarettes. Unlike the real things, though, it doesn’t contain tobacco or burn when you puff it, so it doesn’t pollute the lungs with carcinogenic tar.
Alex Hearn, the Oxford-educated 28-year-old who designed the product, has earned the backing of several wealthy investors as well as a licensing deal with British American Tobacco (BAT), the company behind the cigarette brands Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall. Hearn is even in talks with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the UK’s version of the FDA, to be allowed to market his nicotine inhaler as a medicinal product. Currently under development, BAT says the inhalers will hit the market within two years.