When Did Vaping Start?

When Did Vaping Start?

  • junyu Cai

Although we think of vaping as a modern phenomenon, people have been vaping for centuries. In the past, they did it for enjoyment and healing. In recent years, there's been a focus on finding a substitute for cigarettes.

A Brief History of Vaping

People have always enjoyed inhaling some kind of flavored smoke. The ancient Egyptians were known to heat herbs and oils over hot stones to create a vapor they could inhale.

In the fifth century AD, shishas appeared in Northern Africa. These were long water pipes used to inhale tobacco.

People in India created their own version of the shisha and called it a hookah. Hookahs are still popular in the Middle East and India.

All these pioneers led to what we know and love today as the vape mod.

Who Invented Vaping?

Over the decades, there have been many attempts to create a fake cigarette that looked, felt and smoked like the real thing. In 1963, an inventor named Herbert Gilbert applied for a patent for a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette.” He couldn’t gain the interest of any manufacturers, however, and nothing came of it.

In 1980, Jed Rose and Frederique Behm developed the nicotine patch at their lab in UCLA. They also tried to create a cigarette-like device for delivering nicotine. They called it the “distilled smoke” device, but it never went beyond a prototype.

In the early 1980s, computer engineer Phil Ray worked with his doctor to develop a smokeless cigarette. Although Ray’s design failed, he pioneered the use of the term “vape.”

In 1980, a Native American healer named Eagle Bill Amato created a portable vaporizer for cannabis. He called it Eagle Bill’s Shake and Vape Pipe. This further popularized the use of the term “vape.” It also helped create an image of vaping culture as hip and edgy.

A Winning Design

In 2003, Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik developed the first real vape-like device. Lik was a heavy smoker whose father died of lung cancer. He said he was desperate to quit smoking when the idea of using vapor came to him. His version used a tiny battery and a chipset to produce vapor that mimicked the smoke from a cigarette.

During the next few years, Lik’s version of the e-cigarette became the most popular smoking alternative in the world. He named his company Ruyan, meaning “little smoke,” and introduced e-cigarettes to Europe and the Middle East.

Around the same time, the US companies Smoke Anywhere And VUSE began selling their own version of Lik’s e-cigarette. Smoke Anywhere is still making and selling its kits. These kits come with rechargeable batteries, prefilled or refillable atomizers and chargers. VUSE continues to sell its devices in convenience stores around the country.

In 2007, the US allowed the importation of e-cigarettes. This didn’t mean electronic cigarettes had an easy entry into the US market. China and several other countries banned all electronic cigarettes. This prompted the US to take a closer look at electronic vape devices.

The Fight Was On

Over the next decade, Smoke Anywhere sued the US government several times, and medical institutions debated the health benefits of e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative to help heavy smokers to quit.

In 2012, the British government took the official position that vaping was a harm reduction tool that could help people quit smoking. The same year, a group of e-liquid makers formed the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA) to regulate the quality of vape juices.

Electronic cigarettes were here to stay. Celebrities endorsed them, and hundreds of competitors sprang up with their own versions. The different styles and colors made them a fashion statement. You could buy barrels in different colors and LED tips that glowed blue, purple or green.

How Vaping’s Popularity Grew

Many vape companies consider 2010 the year that vaping’s popularity exploded. In that year, vape manufacturers realized that people wanted more than they were getting from electronic cigarettes. They wanted to enjoy more clouds, more flavor and more of a true hookah-like experience.

The vape manufacturers first developed larger pen mods that were more technologically advanced than e-cigarettes. Vapers preferred these pen mods, but they still wanted more.

In 2010, the first so-called box mod kits became commercially available. These kits gave vapers more power and more control of the vaping experience.

Bulky Boxes

These box mods are still popular because they give vapers ultimate control of the entire vaping experience. Vapers can choose their own coils, atomizers, batteries and tanks. Some vapers build their own coils.

These large box mods are still enormously popular despite their complexity. Serious vaping hobbyists enjoy working with them to create unique vaping sensations. Some people say they still use the clunky, supposedly dated box mods they first bought more than 10 years ago.

Vape hobbyists, however, also enjoy using and buying new box mods. Manufacturers are constantly refining their products because the vaping audience is highly sophisticated. Vapers demand a high level of smoke production, flavor production and ability to customize.

The Arrival of Pod Mods

In 2015, Pax Labs introduced the world to the next big thing in vaping. Its JUUL device made vaping easily available to everyone. People could buy JUUL devices and refills anywhere, including gas stations and convenience stores. They required no skill or knowledge to use. Anyone could start vaping simply by purchasing a JUUL and a prefilled cartomizer.

Today vape manufacturers responded with their own JUUL alternatives, in many cases much more sophisticated than the original. These so-called pod mods gave vapers a whole new option. Pod mods are highly portable, easy to use and discreet. They also allow vapers to use their own e-juice flavors instead of the prefilled, limited flavors available from companies like JUUL and VUSE.

Pod mods continue to be top-selling vape devices, and vape makers continue to improve their technology.

Vaping Today

Today, about four percent of the US population vapes regularly. That number has remained steady for the last few years.

The Future of Vaping

Vaping has an interesting history and a bright future. Vaping technology continues to improve, and creative vape makers like Vaporesso continue refining their products. There is a lot of enjoyment ahead.


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