Infographic: History of E-Cigarettes

Full History of Smoking and Vaping

Have you ever wondered about the real history behind electronic cigarettes? Even though they’ve recently come into the mainstream limelight and garnered a lot of attention, especially since many cigarette smokers started using e-cigs to quit smoking, there’s actually a very long and interesting history behind the development of the e-cigs that so many people enjoy today.

1927 – A Pending Patent


The history of the electronic cigarette begins in 1927, when Joseph Robinson applied for a patent on the very first electronic vaporiser. The purpose of this invention was to hold and heat medicinal compounds. The vapours that would be produced by the heating process would then be inhaled for therapeutic purposes. This vaporising device was one that could be held by an individual and used without any fear of getting burned. Based on this one patent, you can probably already begin to see the development of today’s e-cig devices.

1930 – The Electronic Vaporiser Patent is Approved


It wasn’t until 1930 that Joseph Robinson’s patent for the electronic vaporiser was finally approved. Published by the USPTO, the design of this first vaporiser laid the groundwork for today’s modern electronic cigarettes, even though it wasn’t originally intended to be used as an alternative to smoking tobacco.

1963 – Plans for the First Electronic Cigarette


Although Joseph Robinson wasn’t thinking about cigarette alternatives back in 1930, in 1963, a man named Herbert A. Gilbert decided that it was time for a patent on a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette.” The patent was filed in Pennsylvania, and this time it was directed towards individuals who enjoyed smoking but who were in search of a safer and healthier alternative.

This new type of smoking would no longer burn tobacco. Instead, it would use moist, heated, flavoured air in place of cigarette smoke. The point, though, was to create a product that would look, feel, and operate like a cigarette. The product would be held in a person’s hand and smoked like a cigarette without the fear of getting burned.

1965 – Another Patent Approved


The USPTO officially approved Herbert A. Gilbert’s patent in 1965. This invention was so well received, in fact, that it was even featured in the December issue of Popular Mechanics magazine that year.

1966 to 1999


From 1966 to 1999, a few other patents were filed for products that would fit the e-cig niche. However, none of the products really took a strong enough hold in popular society, so they didn’t really go anywhere. Things changed, though, when another inventor came along in 2000.

2000 – The Birth of Today’s Electronic Cigarettes


The e-cigs that you enjoy today, and the popularity that they’ve garnered, can be attributed to Hon Lik, who had a dream in the year 2000 in which the idea of electronic cigarettes came to him. In the dream, he was wheezing and coughing, unable to breathe. He felt that he was drowning until the waters that surrounded him transformed into a fog. Just as the water turned into a fog, he was later able to create a product that would transform the smoke associated with regular cigarettes into the vapour of an e-cig.

2003 – Hon Battery


In 2003, Hon Lik was a heavy smoker and his father had died of lung cancer. When he realised just how dangerous smoking could be, he wanted to quit so that he wouldn’t suffer the same fate that his father endured. As a result, he invented the Hon Battery.

2004 – Hon Lik’s Patent


In 2004, the USPTO issues Hon Lik’s first patent. The first modern e-cig finally made its way onto the market. This new electronic atomisation cigarette would contain no tar, would consist of a mouthpiece and a shell, and would provide a dose of nicotine to the user. Plus, because it didn’t require any combustion, it would be a safer alternative to regular cigarettes both in terms of avoiding the toxic by-products of combustion and for avoiding the fire hazard associated with conventional cigarettes.

After filing for the original patent on his e-cig, Hon Lik filed several more since then, and they all relate to the e-cig product, making it better than ever each time. Ultimately, this was the first product that would allow tobacco smokers to quit cigarettes and still be able to enjoy the experience of smoking a nicotine-containing product without the adverse health effects.

2006 and 2007 – Entering the Global Marketplace


Hon Lik’s e-cigarette was made available for sale in Europe in 2006, and it hit the United States market in 2007. In fact, in 2007, the product won multiple awards at the American Tobacco Expo in Las Vegas.

2009 to the Present


The e-cig market has continued to grow steadily all over the world since 2009. There are now a variety of devices and accessories available from a range of manufacturers, and there are products to suit every budget. The market keeps expanding and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

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