Vaping feels like it has been around for a long time, but it’s still a fairly recent thing. It can seem strange that only a few years ago it was still a new and novel activity.
So when did it all begin? How did we get to where we are? Let’s take a look at the history of vaping.
The Vaping Pioneers: From the 60s to the 2000s
Back in 1963, Herbert A Gilbert started working on an electronic cigarette. Two years later, he had the patent for the first e-cigarette, which would surely create a revolution.
Unfortunately, it promptly disappeared, never to be heard of again. It looks like Gilbert was a bit too far ahead of his time, and the idea of vaping disappeared for another few decades.
Until Hon Lik came along after the turn of the millennium.
Lik is known as the creator of modern vaping. A pharmacist based in China, Lik was a heavy smoker, just like his father who died from lung cancer. Lik wanted to avoid the same fate, and in 2001 he set about creating a smoking device that would be less harmful, for which he filed a patent in 2003.
It was in 2006 that his first vaping device arrived on the market, and it started selling in Europe. Many people thought it was a gimmick – but it quickly caught on.
Early Days of Vaping
Perhaps fortunately, it coincided with the UK smoking ban in indoor spaces in 2007. Suddenly, people found themselves unable to smoke in pubs, and they turned to e-cigarettes instead. Back then, there was no legislation, and people could vape where and when they pleased.
New companies sprouted up to cater to the rapidly growing demand for vaping. Most of these businesses were online, and they provided the earliest vaping devices and basic e-liquids to people who were curious about vaping – mainly smokers wanting to kick the habit.
Vibrant communities emerged online, with forums and groups dedicated to all things vaping. People switched from smoking to vaping in droves, often ditching the habit of a lifetime for the very first time.
Why the Early Success of Vaping?
There were a number of reasons for its huge popularity. The primary reason was the perception that it was a safer alternative to smoking. The jury is still out on how safe vaping is, but many scientific reports have highlighted the benefits compared to smoking, including the Public Health England (PHE) review that found e-cigarettes are 95% safer than tobacco.
The fact that people could vape anywhere in the early days, unlike smoking, also helped it to grow in popularity.
And then there was the fact that for people trying to quit smoking, they could control the nicotine level more accurately by starting with a high level and then gradually reducing it over time.
But perhaps the biggest factor was simply the enjoyment to be found in vaping. Vapers discovered a whole world of new flavours and experiences, they enjoyed the social aspect, sharing tips, flavours and techniques. It quickly became a popular hobby for many people.
An Explosion in Vaping Innovation
The first vaping devices – and e-liquids – were fairly basic, but this only meant that there was a lot of room for innovation. And vapers soon proved themselves to be an innovative bunch!
There are a few key innovations that took place over the last decade that have changed the face of vaping.
- One of the earliest was the development of a device called The Screwdriver by a vaper who went by the handle of Trogg. He switched the rechargeable battery to a removable battery, which lasted a lot longer, creating the first modified device – or ‘mod’.
- The next major innovation was the addition of a cartomizer, which was devised by brothers Tariq and Umer Sheikh. This allowed devices to hold a greater amount of e-liquid.
- Electrical circuits then started to be used to regulate the power, and this allowed vapers to begin experimenting with voltage – it turned out that changing the voltage affected the flavour of e-liquids.
Soon, there was no need for vaping devices to actually resemble a cigarette like they had in the past. Vapers who had given up smoking did not feel the need to use a fake cigarette, and they developed box mods – boxes that had a cartomizer or tank added on.
New intricate designs appeared, devices that could be taken apart and put back together, and people started to build their own coils and create their own tanks.
Tanks grew in size, and the bigger and better designs allowed vapers to use e-liquids with a higher amount of Vegetable Glycerine, or VG. This provided the vaper with the ability to breath huge clouds of vaper, and a whole new hobby was born – cloud chasing.
How E-Liquids Have Changed
It’s also important to note that e-liquids have evolved considerably over the past decade. They started out as very basic flavours, mainly focusing on tobacco, menthol and fruit flavours.
While these were pleasant enough, they were very basic, and many vapers wanted to experience more exciting flavours. Early vapers soon realised that they could mix flavours to create a huge range of flavours.
Flavour houses popped up, where innovative flavours were mixed up to create unique blends. And this is how we’ve gone from basic fruit flavours to much more exciting e-juices like our very own Tickled Pink (Raspberry and Elderflower Lemonade), Kool Paradise (Mango, Kiwi, Pineapple, Lime and Ice) and other flavours.
In the decade or so since vaping first appeared on the scene, it has become hugely popular in the UK and in many countries around the world. Not only has it been proven to be an effective way to help many people quit smoking, but it also provides a great deal of enjoyment.
And with vaping still being relatively new, it’s fascinating to think about the innovations that await in the next decade.