The emergence of electronic cigarettes has been rapid. A bit like the way things go viral on the internet, so these technologically advanced cigarettes have grown exponentially over the last decade. From fewer than a million people vaping in 2010 to a situation where growth projection suggests that 100 million people could be smoking them by the end of 2021. The growth is huge, and this is despite plenty of question marks surrounding their health benefits and a market that is already well saturated with brand loyal and addicted cigarette users. So, where did the e-cigarette come up and what was its journey prior to the growth from 2010. Was it just an overnight success or has it been around for a long time? Here are a few answers to your questions as we explore the history of the e-cigarette.
No overnight success
It is almost certainly a case of the e-cigarette Australia the longest overnight success story. The reality is that despite its current popularity it was originally patented in 1927 – almost a century ago. The man behind the original patent was an American inventor named Joseph Robinson. He came up with a device that was almost identical to what are today referred to as e-cigarettes or vapes – although his device was not intended as a cigarette. Instead his design was for turning chemical compounds into vapour for medicinal purposes. Ironically, although he registered the patent his device was never sold commercially.
All hail the Chinese
The Chinese, and in particular a chemist and inventor named Hon Lik is widely credited with being the father of the modern e-cigarette. It was Hon Lik, who worked for a company that produced ginseng products who registered a patent for the modern vape in 2003. His product was then introduced to the market in China in 2004, which is when the first e-cigarettes started to be sold. In 2006 and 2007 Hon Lik’s product hit Europe and America respectively and it continued to grow from there. The company he works for is now known as Dragonite International, although it was registered as Golden Dragon Holdings when the patent was originally registered.
Along the way
There is a big gap between the original patent being registered in 1927 and the follow-up in 2003. It is certainly not fair to suggest that vaping research and exploration was not happening during that period. In fact, there was plenty of research and exploration going on, with the big tobacco companies at the forefront of the research. NuMark, a division of the tobacco giant Philip Morris launched a product in 2013, which might sound like they arrived late at the party. But the reality is they had been researching and developing since 1990.
Along the way, there were also many other people influencing and inventing new electronic smoking devices. Some were nicotine-based, and others were not. The problem for many of these inventors, people like Herbert A. Gilbert, who patented a smokeless, non-tobacco product in the mid-sixties, is that while their products were very good and certainly ahead of their time, their inventions happened at a time when cigarettes were still fashionable and not considered overly dangerous to the user’s health.