An idea emerges. One about submarines and nicotine gum.

2021-08-30

Did you know that the initial idea for the nicotine gum came from two doctors at the Physiological Institute of Lund University; Stefan Lichtneckert and Claes Lundgren.

By the end of the 1960 they proposed the development of a pure nicotine product to be used where smoking was forbidden, for example onboard a submarine. The idea was to be able to replace parts of the nicotine the smoker inhaled through the smoke. This way one would be able to reduce the smoke and nicotine abstinence, and in addition one would be able remove the behavioral patterns of smoking over time.

Claes Lundgren explains in an interview how he was obsessed with the science of addictive behavioral patterns for some time and in 1968 the American scientist (and smoker), Dr. Edward Lanphier, visited Lund University at the Airspace and Naval department. During his visit, Dr. Lanphier was suffering from a bad respiratory tract infection, but besides a terrible cough he continued to chain smoke. Claes Lundgren suggested to Dr. Lanphier that he should try out the so called “cure” for smoking, often used by submarine crews, i.e. Chewing Tobacco or Snus. Said and done. Dr. Lanphier purchased a couple of packs of strong chewing tobacco from the local tobacco store.

 

Without hesitation he placed a couple of the small brown pieces in his mouth and his chain-smoking days were no more. “The mouse droppings that saved my life” is apparently a direct quote from him referring to the smokeless alternative.

Together with Ove Fernö, a chemist and head of research at Leo in Helsingborg, Stefan Lichtneckert and Claes Lundgren developed an alternative to chewing tobacco, the nicotine chewing gum. At the time, however, the National Board of Health and Welfare were hesitant to classify a nicotine chewing gum as a pharmaceutical since smoking by itself was not classified as a disease. They were also reluctant to the delivery system of pure nicotine through a chewing gum since it was a completely untested delivery mechanism. Switzerland therefore became the first country to approve the Nicotine Gum as a pharmaceutical in 1978, but just three years later in 1981 it got classified in Sweden as well, as an RX drug.

Ove Fernö was awarded the Polhems award for his invention in 1987. It was awarded to “a qualitative product whose development represent groundbreaking technological innovation”

It should also be noted that Fernö himself quit smoking through the help of the Nicotine Gum.