The History of Vaping

Vaping may have gained wide popularity in recent years. However, the concept is almost a century old. 

If you’re trying to join in on the vaping craze and are interested in finding out how and where it all began, this article is for you. We’ve prepared a comprehensive timeline on the history of vaping, from the first basic electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) ever invented to the modern, sophisticated vaporizers we know today. But first, let’s begin by familiarizing ourselves with what vaping is.

History of Vaping


What Is Vaping?

Vaping is the process of inhaling the vapor generated by heating a special liquid known as vape juice in a device called an electronic cigarette. Vape juice is also known as vape oil, e-juice, or e-liquid, while an electronic cigarette is also called a vaporizer or simply vape device. 

Vaping is often marketed as a healthier and safer, and cheaper alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. That explains the increasing number of cigarette smokers willing to buy CBD vape pens to smooth the transition from smoking to vaping. 

Vaping is healthy in the sense that, unlike cigarette smoking, there’s no combustion involved. Therefore, there’s minimal exposure to the toxins usually present in tobacco smoke, such as carbon monoxide, benzene, and heavy metals. In addition, instead of inhaling the toxin-laden cigarette smoke, a vaper inhales vapor produced by heating vape materials. 

Most vape materials come in the form of e-liquids. However, you can also vape dry herbs or wax concentrates. In terms of safety, there are significantly lower risks of fires from vape devices. But, again, that has a lot to do with the fact that vaping doesn’t involve complete combustion. Provided that you charge your vaporizer properly and store your vape batteries safely, there are close to ZERO risks of fires. 

Lastly, vaping is cheaper than cigarette smoking in that you’re less likely to wind up in a hospital bed receiving treatment for vape-related conditions. For cigarette smokers, it’s usually a matter of time before chronic diseases like lung disease set in.

Vaping Girl

Vaping History

From The 1930s to the Early 2000s

The first vaporizer-like device was invented by American scientist Joseph Robinson in 1927. The device, simply known as mechanical butane ignition device, was intended to administer medical compounds. After inventing the butane ignition device, Robinson submitted his patent to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO approved the patent and subsequently published the device as the first officially documented electronic cigarette. 

However, campaigns to popularize the mechanical butane ignition device soared into headwinds after Robinson failed to secure sufficient funding for his project. Coupled with the fact that the device was poorly received and never commercialized. 

The second vaporizer-like device was created by Herbert A. Gilbert in the early 60s. Gilbert reportedly filed a patent for his e-cig in 1963 and received the patent in 1965. He went as far as to create prototypes for the device. But just like Robinson’s mechanical butane ignition device, Gilbert’s invention never saw the light of day. 

Gilbert attributed the failure of his e-cig to companies that should have commercialized the device and opted to wait for the patent to expire instead of licensing it. However, it remains unclear whether the invention would have caught on or not. 

In 1979, computer technologist Phil Ray and his physician Norman Jacobson created the first commercialized version of the e-cig. However, the device relied on evaporation as opposed to the vaporization of nicotine. So, it was technically non-electronic. 

Although Ray and Jacobson’s device hit the shelves of major retailers, it eventually failed due to what Jacobson described as ‘inherently faulty.’ Ray and Jacobson are also credited for coining the term “vape.” The 90s witnessed renewed efforts to create more efficient electronic cigarettes. Many of these e-cigs relied on physical propulsion or evaporation. In 1998, a U.S. tobacco company requested the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a version of an e-cigarette. However, the FDA declined the request claiming that electronic cigarettes were unapproved drug delivery devices. 

Joseph Robinson

From The 2000s to Date

The modern vaporizer was invented by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003. The 52-year-old pharmacist envisaged a device that would serve as a safer alternative to traditional nicotine delivery methods, such as smoking. Lik’s motivation came from the fact that he had just lost his father, a heavy smoker, to cigarette-related lung cancer. Plus, he was a chain smoker himself. Hon Lik worked for Golden Dragon Holdings at the time of inventing the modern vaporizer. The company developed the device and gave it the name Ruyan, meaning “like smoke.” 

Hon Lik’s invention was subsequently commercialized, and the device garnered incredible fame over the next few years. Finally, in 2006, the first electronic cigarette reached Europe and the U.S. As the modern vaporizer gained more recognition, the device began attracting the attention of medical researchers and public health experts. That’s primarily due to widespread campaigns marketing e-cigs as safer alternatives to cigarette smoking. 

In 2008, Turkey’s Health Ministry suspended electronic cigarettes, observing that the devices were just as potentially harmful as regular cigarettes. The same year, the World Health Organization (WHO) added its voice to the raging debate on the safety of vaporizers by claiming that it didn’t consider e-cigs as legitimate smoking cessation aids. 

However, a study sponsored by Ruyan, Health New Zealand, disproved WHO’s assertions. In this study, researchers established that the levels of carcinogens and other toxic compounds in e-cigarettes were too low to cause significant harm. Based on the findings from this study, e-cigs were now rated between 100 and 1000 times less toxic than smoking tobacco cigarettes. 

Hon Lik

Final Words

The modern vaporizer has experienced a checkered history since the invention of the first e-cig-like device in the 1930s. Today, vaporizers range from simple, essential devices to complex, special-purpose gadgets. Also, the fact that numerous celebrities have jumped onto the vaping bandwagon makes vaping more of a lifestyle than it is a cigarette cessation aid.

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