Vaping has been a ubiquitous part of life in the 21st century, with the number of vapers rising massively in the last decade or so. Vapes are a fantastic way for smokers to try and ditch their habit, or to cut down on the amount of cigarettes they smoke, and have also evolved into a hobby of their own for some vapers. Vape technology is always changing and evolving to become more advanced, with better performance, better power, more customisability and improved user experience.
Of course, every vaper has their own preferences as to what they like when they are vaping, so the ongoing development of vaping means it’s easier than ever to get the perfect vape for you, whatever your reasons for vaping are. But this didn’t happen overnight! Vaping has roots going back literally thousands of years, and the modern e-cigarette has been tried, tested, patented, developed and adapted many times in the last 100 years. So let’s take a trip back in time to learn more about the Evolution of Vaping!
Since as far back as ancient times, there is evidence of people heating oils herbs, spices and other aromatics, not to burn them, but to release the oils in the plants and create an inhalable vapour. It’s pretty clear that this isn’t quite the same as clicking the button on your vape pen today, but it’s fun to see that even so many years ago, the concept of vaping wasn’t an alien one!
We also know that for just as long, people have been smoking tobacco. There is a documented history of tobacco smoking dating back over thousands of years, however it wasn’t until around the 1800s that there was evidence to suggest that tobacco smoking was bad for your health. One of the first doctors to publicly claim that smoking was bad for your health was Dr Benjamin Rush in 1798, who was one of the first to recognise that smoking can be directly linked to increased rates of cancer. However, smoking continued to be incredibly popular with the general public, all the way through the 19th century, and tobacco companies didn’t face any challenges when it came to bringing out new products, promoting their cigarettes and setting up incredibly strong brands and powerful companies. The immense wealth and power these companies had would shape the way tobacco is legislated for the next century, where we really began to see changes in the way people looked at and thought about smoking.
E-Cigarettes in the 1900s
In 1927, the first precursor to the modern vape came from the brain of New Yorker Joseph Robinson. He applied for a patent for an “electric vaporiser”, which was granted a few years later, in 1930. Now, this device never made it past the original patent stage, but many of its features and functionalities were actually very similar to the modern vape devices of today, showing that while this device might not have made it to market, it was a big step in the right direction!
It took more than 30 years for the next big development in vaping to come along, but come along it did in 1963. At this time, while doctors were starting to encourage people to stop smoking due to the many health risks of tobacco cigarettes, big tobacco companies were creating large and lavish marketing campaigns to carefully navigate the first real regulations on their freedom, which were beginning to be implemented. The main restrictions tobacco companies faced were about the claims they could make about the safety and health benefits of their products. Despite this, around half of adults in the US still smoked, which is where Herbert Gilbert’s “Smokeless Non-Tobacco Cigarette” failed.
The next attempt was actually when the term “vaping” was born, with Phil Ray and Norman Jacobson in 1979. They were adamant they didn’t want to refer to their product as a smoking product, so created the term “vaping”, and referred to users of the product as “vapers”, terminology which has clearly carried through to today! So while their product didn’t make it much further than their predecessors, they still have a pretty great claim to fame!
The Modern Vape
2003 is when the modern vape truly took off. Created by Chinese medical researcher Hon Lik, this device is where most modern vapes take their inspiration from. After his father died of lung cancer, Hon, who was also a heavy smoker decided he wanted to make a nicotine replacement therapy that was truly effective and made a real difference to the lives of smokers everywhere. Rumours say that the idea came to him in a dream, though that remains unconfirmed! This device was also the first to use modern e-liquids – that is those made from propylene glycol, which is a key ingredient in the majority of popular e-liquids today.
In 2004, Hon Lik’s device hit the market in China ad was a huge success! In 2005, the first modern vapes were exported out of China, entering big markets like the USA in 2007. Since then, the world of vaping has continued to grow, and the vaping industry is expected to be worth almost 30 billion US dollars by 2022, as the number of users increases. Of course, like all products, there is some hesitancy in several markets, but with more research being carried out every day, we can start to see that vaping is much safer than smoking, and can be used very effectively as an aid to help smokers cut down or quit their habit entirely.
In fact, recent research from Public Health England showed that vaping is 95% safer for your health than smoking, and other research shows that those who use vaping to help them quit have success rates that are almost double compared to those who use traditional nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine patches, lozenges and gums. The world of vaping is always moving, changing and evolving, so there’s no telling what kind of exciting update’s we’ll see in the future!