History of Vaping

Tracing the Clouds: A Comprehensive History of Vaping

Since its origins in ancient times to its modern manifestations, vaping has witnessed a dynamic evolution. Today, electronic cigarettes have become widespread as a smoking alternative and a means of tobacco harm reduction. This narrative traces the historical progression of vaping devices, right from their ideological conception to the modern vape pen.

The advent of vaping can be traced back to ancient times, but its current incarnation has far less antiquity. Ancient Egyptians were known for their technique called “hot stones,” effectively an early version of vaporizing herbs source. Fast forward to 1963; Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patent for a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette source. His idea was revolutionary, but the market was not ready for it at that time.

In 2003, a Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, invented the modern e-cigarette as a result of his father’s death from lung cancer. Motivated to create a less harmful alternative, Hon Lik worked for Golden Dragon Holdings (now Ruyan) and developed a device that uses piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vaporize a pressurized jet of nicotine solution source. This nicotine delivery mechanism was introduced to the Chinese market in 2004 and quickly gained acceptance.

Vape devices made their way to Europe and the United States market in 2007, sparking a global trend of smokeless vaping. Predominantly viewed as cigarette alternatives, these devices were marketed as safer options for smokers who could retain the familiar nicotine ‘hit’ while avoiding harmful carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes source.

Over the years, the design of these vaping devices has evolved for better user experience and functionality. The eGo-T, launched in 2010, was the first device to use a tank system – a design feature still present in most vaping devices today. It gave way to the vape pen, which offered increased portability and more aesthetically pleasing designs source.

Notably, the inception of vaporizers like the Pax by Ploom in 2012 and the Juul in 2015 helped to revolutionize the industry. The Juul, in particular, became a cultural phenomenon, owing its success to its ‘cool’ modern design and high nicotine content obtained from its proprietary nicotine salt formulation source.

As the vaping industry’s technology advanced, so too did its regulation. As far back as 2009, the FDA began legally contesting the import of vaping devices source. From there, countries around the world have fluctuated between promoting e-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy and condoning them due to health concerns and potential youth appeal.

Most countries now regulate e-cigarettes to some extent, with the United States enforcing strict rules on their marketing, especially with the outbreak of EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury) in 2019 which raised serious health concerns about vaping source.

Today, the vaping industry stands on the threshold of innovation and regulation. As it evolves, advances in technology and shifts in consumer behavior will continue to shape its future. Yet, its goal remains the same: to provide safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes and reduce the harm caused by tobacco. As vaping continues its journey through the 21st century, it promises to remain a significant piece of the public health puzzle.

1. Egypt Today
2. Google Patent
3. BBC
4. Research Gate
5. Vaping Daily
6. National Library of Medicine
7. Oxford Academic
8. CDC

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