Published on May 7th, 2016 | by Guest


A Brief History of the Electronic Cigarette

There is no doubt that electronic cigarettes are here to stay. In addition to providing smokers a much-needed alternative nicotine delivery system, e-cigarettes provide consumers with the opportunity of trying new and exciting flavors with a significant risk reduction. But, what’s the story of the e-cigarette? Where did they come from and more importantly how did they reach the level of pervasiveness that they currently occupy? In spite of what you might believe, it is far from an overnight, meteoric rise.

1927 – The First Patent Ever Filed for An Electric Vaporizer

It’s difficult to imagine that the first musings that would eventually lead to the modern electronic cigarette were already forming nearly one hundred years ago, but that’s exactly what happened just two years before the beginning of the Great Depression. Joseph Robinson’s patent, who described his device as a method by which medical compounds could be vaporized and consumed, was award his patent in 1930.

1963 – Herbert Gilbert Files Patent Application for the World’s First Smokeless Cigarette

Gilbert’s goal was to provide the buying public with a safer smoking alternative via his smokeless cigarette. His design, seemingly ahead of it’s time, called for the replacement of tobacco with heated flavored air (sound familiar?).


Even in 1963, Gilbert recognized that while some things appear innocuous enough, submitting them to the combustion process resulted in a byproduct (smoke) that everyone should be wary of inhaling. Gilbert, interviewed years later said that the modern e-cigarette is obviously based on his original design, and when pressed to say why it never took off in 1963, he could only surmise that the companies he showed it to simply wished to wait until his patent expired to launch their own versions, or, in the case of the tobacco companies, quashed it to protect their established product line.

2004 – World’s First Commercially Available Electronic Cigarettes Emerge in China

Inspired by the tragic death of his father, a pharmacist in China named Han Lik developed his own version of the modern e-cigarette so that smokers could satisfy their nicotine cravings without the inclusion of thousands of harmful chemicals found in tobacco products. The company Lik worked for embraced his vision and the Chinese market, seeing the vast potential began using Lik’s device by the thousands.

By 2006, the practice of using e-cigarettes (or vaping, as it became officially known in subsequent years) entranced European smokers. It wasn’t until 2008 that vaping emerged across the pond in the United States.

Not Without Its Share of Controversy

2009 – Schwarzenegger Terminates Bill to Derail Californian Sales

Then state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a move in support of consumer rights, rejected a bill that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the state of California, creating a precedent that many pro-vaping supporters cite when faced with similar legislative initiatives in other jurisdictions.

2010 – Landmark Ruling Against the Food and Drug Administration

The United States Court of Appeal ruled that, short of claiming unfounded therapeutic claims, the regulatory body had no legal grounds for banning the sale of vaping devices in the United States. This controversial ruling solidified the presence of vaping and e-cigarettes in the American market, paving the way for the products’ widespread use.

2013 – E-cigarettes Become a Billion-Dollar Industry

In just a few short years since their emergence in China, the e-cigarette industry reached billion-dollar status in 2013 .

The Impact of E-cigarettes

2015 – Smoking Rates Plummet to Record Lows in the United States

According to data collected by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) the adult smoking rate in the U.S. fell to 15.2% in 2015 from 16.8% in 2014 and 19.4% in 2010 (source:

Public Health England also endorses the position that e-cigarettes represent only a fraction of the risks associated with smoking and, in spite of long-term data, recognizes findings that claim that e-cigarettes may be as much as 95% safer for individuals when compared to tobacco cigarettes.

It’s truly remarkable to see the journey that e-cigarettes have had since the concept was first envisioned those many years ago. While it still may be premature to assert that vaping and perhaps e-cigarettes will one day become the dominant nicotine delivery system, we can, at the very least remain hopeful that they will continue to play a big part in helping smokers the world over curb their smoking habit.

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