Many people around the world now use e-cigarettes every day, but where did they come from? In this blog blu takes you through the history of vaping, from its humble beginnings right up to the present day.
In 1963, an American named Herbert A. Gilbert came up with the first complete design for an e-cigarette. The device produced steam rather than vapor and did not contain nicotine. Although the device was patented and a prototype was produced, it did not receive the same amount of attention as modern e-cigarettes and was not produced on a large commercial scale.
The production and development of e-cigarettes was largely quiet in the 80s and 90s, but in 2001 a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik began working on the modern e-cigarette. The main difference between Hon Lik’s initial designs and the e-cigarettes we vape today is that the early-stage e-cigs were powered using ultrasonic technology rather than a battery-powered heating element. These e-cigarettes were also made from just three parts and there were no open system e-cigarettes. During this time Hon Lik was also responsible for creating e-liquid by experimenting with various liquids that could hold nicotine and produce vapor.
In 2003 Hon Lik patented his design and it was introduced to the Chinese market in 2004. The device was initially called an “e-cigar” and it soon developed a loyal following in China. Other versions of Hon Lik’s design were also developed and sold over the internet to the US by small companies.
Expansion and Innovation
Word of the e-cigarette’s success began spreading to Europe and the US, and e-cigarettes were being sold in both regions by the end of 2007. Early adopters of the technology began innovating and the cartomizer was invented by brothers Umer and Tariq Sheikh. Unlike previous designs, the cartomizer featured a heating coil contained within the liquid store. It could be filled with e-liquid manually rather than needing to be replaced with a new cartridge.
This invention allowed for further development of open system e-cigarettes, and in turn led to the development of the clearomizer in 2009. The clearomizer was very well received as it let vapers to monitor to amount of e-liquid in their device. Although originally a disposable component of the overall device, clearomizers were soon re-developed so that could be used more than once.
E-cigarettes were seen by many as a passing trend when they first burst onto the scene, but they continued to grow in popularity and in 2009 blu was founded in Charlotte, North Carolina.
By 2010 there was an increasing amount of legislation in place affecting where e-cigarettes could be used and sold. Some countries such as Australia initially banned e-cigarettes completely and many other countries began introducing laws to protect consumers from ill-made products. The FDA also banned the importation of e-cigs in 2009 and blocked several companies from shipping their products to the US; however, the ban was soon repealed. By 2015 roughly two-thirds of large countries had introduced some form of legislation relating to e-cigarettes.
In 2016, the FDA introduced new legislations outlining its regulation regarding the production and sale of e-cigarettes. The FDA now monitors all e-cigarette products as tobacco products, including e-liquids, and part of the regulation requires manufacturers to submit any plans for new products before they can be sold to the public. Many states have also moved to create their own vaping laws which mostly affect where they can be used.
Current and Future State of E-Cigarettes
The E-cigarette industry continue to grow in popularity, and there are now more than 9 million regular vapers in the US alone. The industry itself is also continuing to grow with some analysts predicting that it will be worth over $50 billion by the year 2025.
The journey of e-cigarettes is far from over, and it is clear that they have come a long way in just over a decade since they were first developed on a commercial scale. Before the turn of the century we could have hardly imagined where e-cigarettes would be now, and this will make it fascinating to see what the latest inventions and innovations are in the years to come.