Vaping Then & Now: History to Present Day

Since the UK smoking ban was implemented in 2007, there has been a rapid shift toward vaping. While the decline of cigarettes worked as a catalyst, vaping had already been rising in popularity. With fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes, vaping is a great way to quit smoking and has even been estimated to be 95% less harmful than smoking according to Public Health England. 

However, many people don’t know that the history of vaping goes back much further than that. If you have ever asked the question, "when were vapes invented?" you may be surprised by the answer. E-cigarettes date back further than many people would believe.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about the history of electronic cigarettes and vaping. We will take you through important dates, individuals, and facts about vaping.

When Did Vaping Begin?

The first vape-like electronic cigarette was developed in 2001. However, the concept was born many decades before this. Vaping has only continued to grow in popularity in the following two decades since!

Notable Years and Individuals

To get a better idea of the history of vaping, it's important that we look at some important figures. These people laid the groundwork and helped to develop the e-cigarette as we know it today.

1927: Joseph Robinson

Many people are surprised to learn that the original concept of the modern e-cigarette was conceived almost a hundred years ago.

In 1927, Joseph Robinson filed a patent for a device that created vapour that could be safely inhaled.

The patent was approved in 1930. However, Robinson did not take the idea to market. Had he chosen to do so, the history of vaping might have been very different.

1963: Herbert A. Gilbert

Decades after the initial e-cigarette patent, Herbert A. Gilbert created his own device. It was seen as an alternative to combustible tobacco cigarettes.

The electronic cigarette device he came up with used a heat source powered by batteries.

The e-cigarette design was surprisingly similar to modern devices. Unfortunately for Gilbert, the idea never took off.

Potential customers never took to the device and were in no hurry to embrace an alternative to traditional cigarettes.

The 1980s: Phil Ray

During the '80s, everyone was obsessed with emerging technologies. Phil Ray, a pioneer in the computing world, worked with a physician named Norman Jacobson to develop e-cigarettes.

Unlike other variations, they weren't concerned with combustion. Instead, they focused on a way of inhaling nicotine vapour without heat being the catalyst.

The idea failed. However, the word "vape" was used as a verb for the first time. Forty years later, we are still seeing the effects of this.

2001: Hon Lik

A Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik developed the modern electronic cigarette. This electronic cigarette had the potential to replace traditional cigarettes.

Sadly, his inspiration came from the death of his father. His father had been a heavy smoker and passed away from lung cancer.

Lik wanted to create a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette. This would be marketed as a smoking cessation product. The idea was to stop people from inhaling tobacco smoke. This would stop the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes that lead to lung cancer and other harmful effects on the body.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) were key to the development of e-liquid for vaping. Two ingredients that were and still are used in a wide range of products such as foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, they became key ingredients in replicating the smoking sensation. These ingredients are still used in the vaping industry today.

Hon Lik's design saw the use of lithium batteries that could power an atomizer. They were encased in a tube to replicate the physical feel of cigarettes.

Hon Lik's e-cigarettes entered the Chinese market in 2004. 2006 saw the release of the first commercially successful electronic cigarette on the European and US markets.

Since then, a number of e-cigarette and vape manufacturers have gone on to develop and improve upon original designs.

Advancement in Vaping Components

The names mentioned above share credit for the initial designs of e-cigarettes. However, many improvements have been made in the years that followed.

Different manufacturers then started competing for the same market. They developed ways to improve components. These included:

  • Mods - Advanced mods with powerful chipsets, screens, and modes allowed vaping hobbyists to achieve even better vaping. 
  • Vape tanks - Advancements in vape tanks have minimised leaks and maximised efficiency.
  • Coils - Vape coils are used to vaporise your e-liquid. Improved coils result in better performance, for example lower resistance coils, mesh coils, and other coil types have been developed to support sub-ohm vaping.
  • Mouthpiece - Ergonomic designs improved comfort. Some models also fire up when inhaled (draw activation) to provide a state-of-the-art vaping experience.
  • Batteries - Different battery options allowed greater power control.

Improvements in Device Settings

Improving device settings has given users greater control over their electronic cigarettes. This means the user can dictate the airflow, power, and style of vaping.

Thanks to these improvements, vapers can really customise their device to their vaping style and preferences.

Improvements in E-Liquids Available

Nowadays, there is a vast range of e-liquids available on the market. The extensive range of flavours caters to every taste.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems rely on high-quality e-liquids to deliver a great experience. E-cigarettes are often used as a cigarette smoking cessation aid in nicotine replacement therapy. However, e-liquids aren’t just a way of consuming nicotine – many vapers love trying different brands and flavours and may not even use vape juice with nicotine at all! For some vapers, the purpose of e-liquids is mainly to deliver amazing vapour clouds or intense flavours.

Vape juice manufacturers have developed a range of different e-liquid types, both with and without nicotine. Vape juice with freebase nicotine was the original e-liquid type, while nic salts are a new formulation which offers smooth and rapid nic absorption. Or, you can opt for shortfill e-liquids which are nicotine free. You may choose to add a nic shot, which is an unflavoured nicotine e-liquid which can be mixed with your shortfill to achieve your desired nicotine levels. 

Change in Regulations

With vaping becoming more popular than ever, it’s important that there are regulations to ensure that vapers are safe. The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 governs vaping in the UK. These rules include the following;

  • Limiting the tank capacity on e-cigarettes to 2ml
  • A maximum of 10ml per container of e-liquid containing nicotine
  • Maximum nicotine strength of 20mg/ml
  • Packing must be tamper-evident and childproof
  • Warnings and labelling requirements must be included
  • Certain ingredients have been banned
  • MHRA must be notified and publish new e-liquids and e-cigarettes

Increase in Popularity

Following a number of surveys, the British government has indicated a steady rise in vaping. It is estimated that almost 3 million adults now vape in England alone.

The use of an electronic smoking device is often seen as a good way to manage nicotine addiction without inhaling cigarette smoke. In fact, studies have found that it’s a great way to quit smoking – often better than using other nicotine replacement therapies. 

Vaping’s Future

As more people turn to electronic cigarettes as a way of quitting smoking, large tobacco companies are taking stock. In the meantime, vape manufacturers continue to develop and improve their products.

From coils and mods to batteries and e-liquids, there are constant innovations in the vaping world. Big vape brands like VooPoo, Vaporesso, Innokin, Smok, GeekVape, and many more are continuously pushing the boundaries to improve the quality, versatility, and convenience of vapes.

Right now, we’re seeing an explosion of popularity for disposable vapes in particular. With so many exciting disposable flavours to try, it’s no surprise that people love these portable and convenient vapes. We expect that their popularity will continue to rise with more and more exciting products being developed soon. 

The rise of vapes in the last 20+ years must have come as a shock to the tobacco industry. As more people move away from conventional cigarettes, more people have turned to e-cigarette use.

The excellent range of vape kits and e-liquids available at Vaping 101 is a testament to how far the industry has come.

We look forward to seeing what the future holds and the innovations yet to be seen in the vaping industry. Don’t forget to check our latest mods and latest e-liquids pages to keep up to date with the best new arrivals! 

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