A Brief History of E-Cigarettes

A Brief History of E-Cigarettes

Blog commerce A Brief History of E-Cigarettes


The following is an excerpt from BCC Research's report "North American E-cigarette and Legal Cannabis Markets," which provides a comprehensive overview of the e-cigarette and legal Cannabis markets in the United States and Canada. Combined, these markets are expected to reach $25.5 billion by 2023.

The first recorded instance of an individual having designed an e-cig device was Herbert A. Gilbert. In 1963, Gilbert filed a patent on his electronic cigarette design, however, the idea did not take off. Many now suspect that while Gilbert could clearly see the benefits of vaping and perhaps the negatives associated with smoking tobacco, while many others were not as enlightened.

In the 1960s, smoking was common and took place everywhere from doctor’s office waiting rooms, on airplanes, other public transports and of course in cafes, restaurants and public houses. A shift in attitudes toward smoking, a better understanding of the risks surrounding smoking tobacco and more advanced technology were simply not tools that Gilbert had access to at the time.

After his father tragically died of lung cancer, a forward-thinking Chinese pharmacist, a smoker himself, set to revolutionize what was soon to become commonly known as the electronic cigarette. Han Lik’s prototype enabled smokers to enjoy the sensation of smoking without the risks specifically associated with tobacco cigarettes. With the full support of the company he worked for, Lik took his design and turned it into the early version on the modern e-cigarette. The company Lik worked with changed its name to Ruyan, which translates to “like smoking” (as the e-cig is a tobacco cigarette alternative). The reaction from Chinese consumers was more positive than ever could have been anticipated.

Initially enjoyed primarily in China, the success of Lik’s e-cigarette soon spread to numerous countries within Europe and in 2007 was adopted by the U.S. market.


The Future of E-Cigs

The World Health Organization took actions that led to a number of studies into vaping by governments, individual companies and other interested parties. The WHO has not officially deemed e-cigarettes as being safe (and have not deemed them unsafe either), however, it did ban them as being registered as a device to help people quit smoking. While vaping was not entirely accepted due to a lack of testing, the fact that the WHO did not report any negative health effects associated with vaping was largely taken as being positive.

In 2009, both Canada and Australia banned electronic cigarettes. The U.S. FDA also banned electronic cigarettes from being imported into the country stating that electronic cigarettes were a product that should be formally registered.

A bitter fight between retailers and manufacturers and the FDA began and multiple lawsuits have been filed (mostly against the FDA). The newly formed Electronic Cigarette Association was created to champion the e-cigarette cause and petition relevant bodies to ensure that any laws or regulations involving vaping were decided upon in an open, fair and informed manner.

In 2009, a support group for the e-cigarette industry, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternative Association was formed to promote honest and fair representation of the market as well as unbiased studies and protection from unsubstantiated (untrue) claims about the industry as a whole and its products. Many concerns about how impartial the FDA is on this issue have been raised by these groups and others given that it continues to approve tobacco cigarettes despite overwhelming evidence regarding the associated risks.


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    BCC Research Editorial

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