The e-cigarettes are relatively a new phenomenon; the products that we know and love today have only entered the market rather recently. Since then, a lot has happened and a lot of vaping devices and a wide range of juices have been made available. Vaping remains to be a new and fascinating experience. However, is it a recent development?
The beginnings of the e-cigarette
The first e-cigarette dates back to 1963 when an American, Herbert A. Gilbert, came up with the idea of the electronic cigarette. He invented the first e-cigarette with a built-in liquid container, resembling the tobacco cigarette. His device worked a bit differently than the ones that are available today. However, the end goal was the same; to stimulate the smoking experience and to provide a healthier alternative to smoking. Two years later, in 1965, the patent was granted to him.
Unfortunately, apart from a prototype, it was never put into production, and hence the e-cigarette did not come onto the market at that point in time. His design did not catch on with the general public. At that time, the idea of the e-cigarette was still too foreign to people and they continued to smoke tobacco products. During the 1960s, other patents were filed by other inventors. The technology was similar, but neither could these products make a breakthrough, nor could they be mass-produced for commercial reasons.
The evolution of the e-cigarette
It wasn’t until 2003, 40 years later, that the e-cigarette finally made its breakthrough. Unlike Gilbert’s attempt, this time the e-cigarettes could successfully get into the market. There were two main reasons why it was successful. First, the technical development was more advanced than 40 years ago, and secondly people were fully aware of the dangers of tobacco products consumption and were more favourable to the e-cigarette as they were back in the 1960s.
It was the Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik, who took up Gilbert’s idea and developed a more modern version of the e-cigarette. Consequently, so began the success of the e-cigarette. The reason why Hon Lik made another attempt to develop the e-cigarette was because of his father. He was a chain smoker who died of lung cancer. This event in his life was the reason why Hon Lik was looking for healthier alternatives to tobacco cigarettes.
Hon Lik’s invention is very similar to the devices we see today. These relatively simple devices contain a heating element, a microprocessor, a battery, and an e-liquid storage area. At that time, the liquid was already based on propylene glycol (PG) and the nicotine was dissolved in this substance. It was also Hon Lik who invented e-liquid by experimenting with various liquids that contained nicotine and could generate vapour. This device produced a vapour that was very similar to the smoke of a tobacco cigarette. The vapour could be naturally inhaled, resembling smoking, and in such a way the nicotine could enter into the bloodstream via the lungs. The first liquid containers were made of plastic.
First appearance in the market
The e-cigarettes were first launched in 2004 as an alternative to tobacco combustible products and as a healthier alternative to smoking. Hon Lik, who then worked for the company “Golden Dragon Holdings”, changed the name of the company to “Ruyan,” meaning “similar to smoking.” In 2005, the export of e-cigarettes to other countries began and in 2007, the international patent was issued.
The entry of the tobacco industry
Meanwhile, the big companies from the international tobacco industry have also recognized the importance of the e-cigarette. As a result, more and more companies from the tobacco industry are also entering the production and marketing of e-cigarettes. These companies started to specialize in the production and marketing of their own products, or they simply took over successful e-cigarette manufacturers.
How does it look today?
The basic operating principle of the e-cigarette has hardly changed since 2003; however, both the appearance and features of the current e-cigarettes have changed a lot. The e-cigarette has evolved ever since and continues to do so.
In the very beginning, there were not many options you could choose from because the only vaping devices were these simple vaping e-cigarettes. They were coming together with the battery, atomizer and a tank, all build in one cylindrical shaped unit. These e-cigarette devices were small and low powered and they were missing a lot of features which you can find in current vaping devices. The first e-cigarettes were very similar to tobacco cigarettes; however, this is no longer the case. What started with a cig-a-like in China and vaping pens, it has developed to vaping devices whose temperature and power range is manually adjusted according to the vapers’ desires. Besides, at first, the only juices available were the pre-filled e-liquid which came with the e-cigarettes, but now you can find an unlimited range of flavours.
The invention of the e-cigarette is a turning point in the history of nicotine and tobacco consumption. The industry continues to grow and innovate at a fast rate. It can be said that e-cigarette evolution is far from over as we all have witnessed its rapid development and innovation in just a little bit more than a decade. What started as a concept now is a lifestyle. Therefore, we are looking forward to seeing the latest innovations that are waiting for us, enriching our vaping experience.