Today’s post is about to get a bit historical. But if you’re expecting a dry history lesson, you’re far from it. Namely, we want to look at the history of the e-cigarette, which is quite interesting for several reasons. While tobacco smoking has been documented in Europe since the late Middle Ages, modern e-cigarettes have only emerged recently. Today we want to find out why now was the right time for this exciting product and why previous attempts to create alternatives to smoking had failed in any case. To do that, let’s first look at the history of tobacco use, from its beginning with the gradual colonization of America to its end. Then, when e-cigarettes first appeared on the field, what happened was truly incredible.
The Tobacco Success Story
Tobacco plants are not native to Europe, and the Europeans only got to the plant via the Native Americans. During the 16th century, the Spaniards and the English brought tobacco to Europe, which spread quickly. While the Central American “Indians” smoked tobacco, it was initially snuffed in Europe. (That is, finely ground tobacco was consumed through the nose.) Cigarettes were not manufactured until centuries later, around 1850, in France and Spain. Tobacco scraps were wrapped in paper and smoked by factory workers. Cigarettes were popular mainly because they were significantly cheaper than cigars. In Germany, she was also largely unknown up to this time. The first German cigarette factory was established in Dresden in 1862. In the 20th century, the share of cigarette consumption in total tobacco consumption rose to 73%. Smoking experienced its heyday in the late 20th century. Smoking was still very popular at the time, and people were hardly aware of the negative effects. That only changed with the turn of the millennium, since the sale of cigarettes has been falling almost constantly every year.
Why the first e-cigarette had to fail
Of course, the invention of the e-cigarette would be unthinkable without the normal cigarette and tobacco consumption in its current form. After all, it is a device mainly intended to help you quit smoking. It is interesting to know that the e-cigarette was not invented in the early 2000s. The American Herbert A Gilbert applied for a patent for an e-cigarette in 1963, granted in 1965. More specifically, he wanted to patent a smokeless, tobacco-free cigarette in which the burning tobacco and paper are replaced with heated, moist air that is flavored. So he wanted to replace smoke with vapor and thus eliminate nicotine. For those who have a little history of vaping in mind, Gilbert was unsuccessful. But what are the actual reasons for this? It wasn’t the technology. A prototype of this e-cigarette was made, but the inventor never achieved the necessary attention, let alone commercial success. Two things were missing for him. On the one hand, it was the public’s knowledge that smoking is harmful and, on the other hand, modern technology, mainly the Internet. More on how the fear of consequential damage and the digital revolution helped the same idea to bear fruit 40 years later.
The invention of the modern e-cigarette – this time, it just had to work
Almost forty years later, the world looked a little different. The Internet made the world feel smaller, information was available to everyone, and knowledge of the effects of long-term nicotine use made many want to quit smoking. One such horrific effect was felt by Chinese Hon Lik, whose father, a former chain smoker, died of lung cancer. Hon Lik, a smoker himself, quit smoking immediately but felt the addictive effects of nicotine well. His idea in 2001 – was a device that should vaporize a liquid containing nicotine under pressure and with the help of ultrasound. He tinkered with it and quickly realized that the primary problem was making the technology a reasonable size. But his intention was clear: Lik wanted to create an alternative to smoking. He patented the modern e-cigarette that we knew today in 2003. Sales then started in 2004. It was then imported into the USA, where this new invention benefited significantly from the Internet. It was officially sold and patented internationally in 2007 and then massively exported from that point on.
The idea passed through many hands
Hon Lik did not remain alone in the market for long. His design was copied many times internationally and sold as plagiarism. In addition, the technology was screwed. The popularity of the e-cigarette grew, but many long-time users are still familiar with the problems of these first generations. British entrepreneurs have solved many of these, making them easier to use and fill. Hon Lik is also responsible for developing modern e-liquid, a solution containing nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol. Vegetable glycerine is mixed with this to ensure easier vaporization. Different flavors were added, and the nicotine level was screwed up. But not only professional developers contributed to the improvement and progress with e-cigarettes. Users also experimented and mixed with the liquids and shared their knowledge with the world on the Internet.
Why e-cigarettes are so important right now
We are in a time when many smokers want to quit. And e-cigarettes provide a good solution for this. But especially, the rapid development and the comparative lack of information and studies on the subject cause many misjudgments in the population. However, the industry has grown quickly to respond to demand, even though many countries strictly regulate the use of e-cigarettes.
One thing is clear: the triumph of the e-cigarette is not over yet. Even regulations in individual countries or complete bans could not bring a stop and, in some cases, have even been successfully circumvented with the help of orders via the Internet. And the scientifically proven effect of e-cigarettes proves that many users are right. The first studies are already showing that vaping helps you quit smoking and is significantly better for your health than conventional cigarettes. In the coming years, it can be assumed that the acceptance of the technology and its users will continue to increase.