A German federal court has ruled that the liquids contained in e-cigarettes aren't medicinal products and can be sold freely.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that produce an odorless vapor which typically contains nicotine, and sometimes flavorings. The Federal Administrative Court delivered its verdict Thursday in a case involving a woman who ran an e-cigarette shop in the western city of Wuppertal.

City authorities barred her in 2012 from selling liquids containing nicotine in various strengths on the ground that they were pharmaceutical products which weren't licensed as such and therefore couldn't be marketed. A lower court ruling went against the plaintiff.

E-cigarettes are often described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes that may help regular smokers quit. However, there hasn't been much research on them yet.