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09

Jul

2018

History of the e-cigarette

The invention of the electronic cigarette

While people used to think little about the health consequences of smoking, in the second half of the 20th century, awareness began to dawn that cigarettes are extremely harmful to human health and can cause serious long-term health problems. As a result, many people naturally tried to quit smoking. As any smoker will know, this is far from easy. And so, an entire industry of products was quickly developed to help people quit smoking.

From chewing gum with nicotine to patches that provide the body with the addictive substance via the skin, a wealth of aids was quickly found. However, many smokers have missed one thing in all of these things: the feeling of really pulling on a cigarette while inhaling smoke. The addiction of smoking is not only linked to the physical dependence on nicotine, but above all to the mental habit of having a cigarette in the mouth.

With this realization, various people have started to develop an alternative to the ordinary cigarette, which is not or at least less harmful to human health. Already in 1963, Herbert A. Gilbert submitted a patent for a "smoke-free, tobacco-free cigarette", which in principle was identical to the e-cigarette that is so popular today. As with the modern devices, his invention was to use a nicotine-containing liquid which should be converted to steam by heating and inhaled by the user.

Unfortunately, the world's first e-cigarette did not attract investors and was never commercially marketed. And not only that: Until the turn of the millennium, there were no new developments in terms of the introduction of the first e-cigarette. The reasons for this are not well known, but many people suspect that the American tobacco lobby has had a major impact, as they naturally feared a threat to their business and wanted to stop it at all costs. And as is well known, the lobbies of big industries like oil or tobacco in the US have a huge impact on politics, so this explanation is quite plausible.

Another possible reason for the lack of activity in the field of e-cigarettes is that smoking did not really get criticized in society until the 1990s. Until that time, smoking was still allowed in all restaurants, bars and even in airplanes. And while the health risks of cigarettes were slowly becoming known, much of society still did not really care about it. Therefore, it may simply have been the case that the e-cigarette has not yet had a genuine market and therefore no great effort has been made to develop such a product.

Evolution of the e-cigarette as we know it today

Throughout the 1990s, it became known throughout the world that smoking was very unhealthy. A large part of humanity therefore wanted to stop smoking, which suddenly formed a huge market. So it was only a matter of time before a new version of the electronic cigarette was born.

The same thing happened in 2003, when Chinese pharmacologist Hon Lik developed a new device using a similar mechanism to Herbert A. Gilbert's e-cigarette. Again, a nicotine-containing liquid was turned into steam, which the user could then inhale. This steam is known to be much healthier than the smoke of cigarettes, and also gives the consumer the feeling of really pulling on a cigarette. This will make it easier for many people to stop smoking ordinary cigarettes. Hon Lik already used propylene glycol to mix the nicotine-containing liquid, which is vaporized in a cylinder and then inhaled through a mouthpiece. This technology is still used today, making Hon Lik the father of the modern e-cigarette.

The e-cigarette first became popular in China, but already in 2005, the first devices were sold abroad. Since then, the popularity of electronic cigarettes has been steadily growing and today millions of people use this technology every year to quit smoking. Logically, several people started to improve the original version of the e-cigarette and filed patents for improved technologies. Especially in England and in the USA there were many of these patent applications. For example, the vaporizer was used earlier in the mouthpiece and then relocated to the fluid container through a new version, which significantly improved vapor evolution.

The spread of the electronic cigarette

In the years since 2005, the electronic cigarette has become a real alternative to conventional smoking. The tobacco industry also had to realize at some point that the spread of the e-cigarette is unstoppable. That's why today many cigarette manufacturers are working to enter the electronic market themselves. For example, Imperial Tobacco purchased the patent from Hon Link for an incredible $ 75 million.

For governments around the world, the spread of e-cigarettes has created a new challenge. Since no long-term studies were available on this new technology, the issue of regulating e-cigarettes was quite complicated. For example, the World Health Organization published a statement that electronic cigarettes were not officially accepted as a smoking cesspool. Of course, over the years there have been numerous studies to determine the compatibility of e-cigarettes with human health.

Nevertheless, the e-cigarette was initially banned in several countries. In Australia and Canada, for example, the technology was completely illegal at the beginning. Other countries, such as the United States, regulated the import of e-cigarettes. And in Germany there were several court decisions on the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the drug law. Meanwhile, the e-cigarette is allowed in some of these countries, but still regulated.


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