A Brief History of Vaping

The evolution of vaping has been a long and gradual process that has resulted in the wide range of devices and vape options available to you today.

Let’s discuss vaping, the history of vapes, and how we got to where we are!

Posted by Carlyn Atkinson on

People have enjoyed the rush smoking gives them for thousands of years. The way we smoke has changed a lot, but the simple joy of it remains the same. One of the ways we enjoy smoking cannabis today is vaping. And while vaping has seen an explosion of popularity in recent years, many people are unaware of how far back the history of vaping actually goes.

E-cigarettes and other cigarette devices and vaping products are often thought of as a cutting-edge technology that only sprung up in recent years. That’s why many people are surprised to learn that the modern vaporizer gets its roots from a patent filed nearly a century ago in New York.

The evolution of vaping has been a long and gradual process that has resulted in the wide range of devices and vape options available to you at countless retailers today.

Let’s discuss vaping, the history of vapes, and how we got to where we are today!


How Does A Vape Work?

Most vapes operate under the same principles. They all have a battery source (vape mod) that powers a heating element (coil). The heating element vaporizes oil/juice in a small chamber (atomizer). Then you inhale the vapor through a small mouthpiece.

Vapes work a complete system. No one component is the vape. The vape is what you get when all of those pieces come together.

Experienced vape users shop a la carte so they can mix and match different vape parts, but beginners typically stick to pre-packaged kits. These kits have everything included to ensure appropriate compatibility.

The liquid used inside vapes is called e-liquid. It’s also commonly referred to as e-juice or vape juice. You can also get vape juice with THC. THC vape juice is the same thing as regular vape juice, it just also contains THC concentrate.

You can also use some cannabis oils in your vape as long as you dilute them before applying heat.


What Is The Difference Between An Electronic Cigarette And A Vape?

You will often seen the terms vapes and e-cigs used interchangeably. Note that at Smoke Cartel, we sell vaporizers for dry herb waxes, and oils, and do not sell e-cigarettes or juice for them.

E-cigarettes and vapes function similarly, but there are key differences, including:

  • Aesthetics: A main differences between e-cigs and vapes is how they look. E-cigarettes tend to look like cigarettes while vapes and vaporizers tend to look like fountain pens. Vapes are often slightly larger than e-cigarettes.
  • Battery life: Vapes are often considered a more advanced version of an e-cigarettes. The main reason for that is battery life. The battery is usually bigger in a vape so they last much longer.
  • Flavor: Using a vape opens you up to a wide range of flavored juices. If you want to try different e-liquids, you should use a vaporizer.


How Long Has Vaping Been Around?

Now that we have a generally understanding of what a vape is, let’s take a look at their history. The very first documented reference to an electronic cigarette is credited to Joseph Robinson all the way back in 1930. His device was never commercialized, and a prototype of this primitive device might not have been manufactured.

After Robinson, Herbert A. Gilbert is commonly credited with the creation of the first device that closely resembles our modern vaporizer. Henry Gilbert created prototypes of a smoking alternative without combustion, but failed to commercialize his device. Gilbert blames his failure on the companies who might have commercialized it wanting to wait for the patent to expire rather than license it. But it’s not clear if the device had commercial potential at the time.

Numerous other patents for nicotine inhaler devices were filed throughout the 20th century and early 2000s by tobacco companies and individual inventors. The 1990s especially saw a flurry of activity in this area. Many of these vape devices relied on evaporation or physical propulsion, but a few were pretty similar to modern vaporizers.


Who Is Responsible For Modern Vaping?

Gilbert's invention would go largely unnoticed until 2003 when Hon Lik took entered the scene. Hon Lik is a Chinese pharmacist looking for a way for smokers to easily quit smoking. Lik himself was a life-long smoker, so smoking cessation was important to him, and he understood the difficulty smokers had kicking the habit.
Lik developed the first modern vape to be used to vape a nicotine-infused juice. Unlike Gilberts device, Lik wanted his device to be small, travel-friendly, and easier to use. The first modern e-cigarettes looked a lot like traditional cigarettes, and the design and function is similar to how disposable vapes work today.  
Lik manufactured his product in China and it became a success. The vape device he developed quickly spread to surrounding countries. However, it wouldn't be until 2009 that Lik decided to export his product to the United States and Europe.
Timing was likely a huge reason vaping took off. Close to the time that Lik introduced his vaping device, the U.K. and United States were introducing strict smoking limitations, like prohibiting smoking in public places. Smokers swarmed to these smoking devices that they could use in public spaces, and the rest is history.


Vaping Today

In the early 2010s, we saw the rise of devices we now know as “vape pens.”

The popularity of vaping soared with mass market availability of quality products. It’s estimated that the number of people using vapes worldwide jumped from just 7 million in 2011 to nearly 25 million in 2014. During that time, vaping became so widespread that the Oxford English Dictionary named “vape” its word of the year.

Since vaping is now a mainstream product and practice, it caught the eye of government regulators and health advocates. Because of these studies, even more smokers put out their cigarettes and picked up a vape pen and the adult smoking rate dropped quickly.

However, concern did emerge that there were no long-term studies on the risks of vaping due to its emergence as a relatively new phenomenon. Anti-smoking advocates quickly turned into anti-vaping advocates. These concerns have brought life to new laws and regulations, but vaping remains as popular as ever.


Vape Products Popular Now

Now there are countless vape products available today. Some of the most popular vaping devices are:

  • Pod Systems: A pod system is a vaping device that stores its e-liquid in a removable plastic pod instead of a twist-on plastic cartridge or a glass tank like a vape pen or mod.
  • Vape Pen: A vape pen is long and cylindrical, like a thick pen, best suited for beginners.
  • Vape Mods: Vape mods are the largest and most powerful types of vape devices.


Is Vaping Safer Than Smoking Cigarettes?

The long-term adverse effects of smoking cigarettes on personal and public health have long been well-documented. The health risks of cigarettes include an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and deadly lung cancer. The CDC even reports that cigarette smoking causes nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States.

Vaping may be a less risky choice than smoking tobacco, and it can be a good tool for people trying to quit smoking. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved.

There is very little evidence of the long-term effects of vaping, particularly because it is a relatively new phenomenon and it will take decades for long-term effects to develop. We encourage anyone interested in vaping to do their own research and decide if its right for you.

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