History of Vaping

The Origins of Vaping

It is a commonly held misconception that vaping is a by-product of the health industry's push to help people quit smoking during the 00’s after the patent registration of Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik’s first modern e-cigarette design in 2003 and subsequent launch into the Chinese market 2004. However, the history of vaping can be traced back as far as 1963 when an American inventor, Herbert A. Gilbert, patented "a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette" that involved "replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavoured air". Unfortunately for Gilbert, the invention was ahead of its time. Although the claims that smoking caused cancer began to circulate in the medical industry in the 1950’s, the 1960’s was the height of the tobacco industry's popularity and the sale of cigarettes was beginning to reach a crescendo and so interests in alternatives to smoking were largely shelved and ejected from the market by big tobacco companies.

After the launch and initial success of Lik’s first design on the Chinese market in 2004, interest in the first generation of products spread internationally and began being sold online and shipping to the USA.

A Vast Growth In Popularity 

The history of vaping will be defined by the year 2007 as e-cigarettes began selling from the UK and US domestic market. At this time British entrepreneurs, Umer and Tariq Sheikh, invented the cartomizer (the mechanism that integrates the heating coil into the liquid chamber). Until this point e-cigarettes were largely “cigalike” in design; however, the rapid product developments and the invention of the cartomizer spark a culture of DIY “modding” amongst the vaping community in order to Improve functionality, aesthetics and battery life. When these modded devices began to sell online via vaping forums, the manufacturers in the vaping industry began to make “factory custom style” mods with interchangeable components leading to the creation of the modern style of “vape pens”. By 2009 customizability was adopted by nearly all major manufacturers and the invention of the clearomizer and variable voltage batteries were introduced.

Although at first vaping was dismissed as a fad by the big tobacco companies, they began to expand operations into the vaping industry and acquire vaping outlets, brands and patents such as the Imperial Tobacco's acquisition of Hon Lik’s intellectual property in 2013.

Despite the advances in technology, safety, culture and community, many vapers accuse industry regulators such as the United Nations’ World Health Organisation of corruption by big tobacco companies and wealthy lobbyists to suppress the availability of vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes as highlighted in the 2016 documentary A Billion Lives. The history of vaping has been thus far been brief, but as the popularity of the products and usage continues to grow, it's clear that the story of vaping with continue with much more to be added to its story. 

TL;DR

Who invented vaping?

The invention of e-cigarettes is often attributed to Hon Lik (2003) or Herbert A. Gilbert (1963)

When did e-cigarettes start being sold in the UK?

By 2007 e-cigarettes began selling from the UK and US domestic market