Vaping History: How it began and Became So Popular

Twitter icon

E-cigs popularity grew rapidly a couple of years ago, in the late 2000s, that is why vaping may seem to be a new trend. However, hookah, which is expected to be a quite old invention, appeared nearly a century after Herodotus mentioned the first form of vaping. In discussing the history of vaping which began back in 440 BC no detail is too small. It had a lot of crucial stages on the way to today’s popularity.

Similarly, tobacco cultivation and consumption in South America is another topic. So are the roles of e-cigarettes for cutting smoking rates. As such, the best point to start the history of vaping is when the first smokeless vaping device emerged. This was an electronic device that is seen as the father of the modern e-cigarettes.

Vaping Fathers

Herbert A. Gilbert submitted patent for an electronic device for “smokeless” vaping and is therefore seen as the father of vaping or e-cigarettes. This young and educated Korean veteran of war was working in the scrap yard of his father. He wanted to solve the problem of the burning leaves that wafted over the yards of his neighbor. This led him to the invention of the e-cigarette.

Gilbert noticed that items like wood, bark, and leaves didn’t pose harm alone. However, when bark and leaves dried, they were burnt and this led to production of a noxious smoke. When heat was applied, there was no problem. This was a significant observation that came to define vaping benefits over smoking later. He realized that without combustion, there was no problem of the noxious smoke.

In 17th April 1963, Gilbert submitted patent for a non-tobacco cigarette that was smokeless. However, the smokeless device did not inspire action during his times. His technology was ignored by almost everybody at that time.

This can be attributed to the fact that people accepted smoking as a social norm in the 1960s. At this time, there was no link between tobacco or smoking and cancer. The studies that established a link between smoking and cancer were published a few years before Gilbert’s patent submission.

However, the general public remained in the dark due to the tobacco industry’s efforts. The link between smoking and cancer became known to the public in the late 1980s.

Vaping Invention

While treating a patient, Dr. Norman Jacobson noticed that the patient had an illustrious but brief resume. The resume had two entries only. One, the patient was the father of microprocessor and two, the manager of Apollo space program. Phil Ray was the patient. He played a significant role

in ushering in the desktop computers and Space Age. However, Ray also played a role in the development of e-cigarette. He took the original notion of combustion-free way of ingesting nicotine by Gilbert and ran with it.

He was a smoker that knew the dangers that smoking posed to him. His idea entailed nicotine vapor inhalation via a filter paper that was soaked in nicotine in a liquid form. Considering the fact that the idea was by a microchip inventor, it was low-tech. However, with Dr. Jacobson’s assistance, the e-cigarette idea started taking form.

The only difference at this time was that the cigarette didn’t have the “e” at this time. It was considered a simple electronic device. What’s more, the idea involved a crucial additive. Gilbert made prototypes that eschewed the nicotine altogether. Thus, the device produced a tobacco-flavored air.

Ray/Jacobson smokeless device delivered nicotine dose to the user. Nevertheless, it did not involve combustion. It looked like a normal cigarette made of plastic. It had a colored tip just like a traditional cigarette. The color of the device was similar to that of a traditional cigarette. The filter paper with nicotine soaked in it was placed in the filter paper section of a traditional cigarette. The user inhaled this nicotine to get a daily dose without combustion or smoke.

Story Continues Below

This description makes it sound like a cig-a-like. This is aimed at mimicking the feel and look of a traditional cigarette. However, it does not involve combustion. It’s later that Ray and Jacobson perfected the “smokeless” cigarette.

Eventually, they founded the American Tobacco Products Inc. This is the company that marketed the product called the Favor. The tagline, “Do Yourself a Favor” made this product very popular in the late 1970s and early 80s.

However, the FDA brought them trouble by considering the Favor a new drug. The fact that the FDA categorized it as a narcotic meant that they could not sell it without the approval of this authority.

What’s more, the nicotine-infused liquid had a short shelf life. Nicotine became cotinine that does not produce nicotine vapor’s effects and it tastes bitter.

Ray and Jacobson sold the company later. However, though the Favor is remembered by only a few people today, Jacobson got credit for one invention. He is credited for the terms vapers and vaping, the terms that he used to substitute smokers and smoking respectively.

No More Ashes

Hon Lik is seen as the modern e-cigarette inventor by most people. He was a Chinese pharmacist and a heavy smoker. His father was also a heavy smoker that died of lung cancer. The death of

his father motivated him to stop smoking and come up with a way of ingesting nicotine without combustion.

It’s not known whether Lik new about Gilbert’s idea of a smokeless device. However, Lik developed a device that mirrored the schematics of Gilbert. Lik’s innovation used high-frequency piezoelectric element. A nicotine solution was vaporized by ultrasound and the resultant vapor would be inhaled by the user. The high-frequency part was later replaced by an element that was powered by a battery.

In 2003, Lik submitted patent for e-cigarette. In 2004, e-cigarettes hit the Chinese market and eventually they made their way into the U.S, Europe, and the rest of the world.

Pros and Cons of Vaping


* No stinkies

* More flavor varieties

* Custom fit

* Better feeling


* Dry mouth

* Challenges choosing the right e-juice

The Future

Vaping and e-cigarettes are currently very popular. The vaping and e-cigarette industry is now a billion-dollar industry. Vape companies, users and hobbyists are involved in the development of more innovative vaping devices. Thus, e-cigarettes are being modified by the day to provide a better vaping experience. Invention of devices like vape pens, mods, and e-juices continues to make vaping popular in the contemporary society. Thus, the promise of vaping makes its future seem bright.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: