The earliest e-cigarette goes back as far as 1963, when inventor Herbert A. Gilbert patented a ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’. Although there were prototypes made it never caught on, and it wasn’t until 2003 that the vaping really took off.
It all started when Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, decided to give up cigarettes after watching his father, a heavy smoker, die of lung cancer. In 2001 he came up with the idea of using high frequency ultrasound-emitting elements to vaporise liquid containing nicotine, designed to be an alternative to smoking.
He patented the modern design in 2003 and they hit the domestic Chinese market in 2004. They quickly made their way internationally and by 2007 they were deeply embedded in the European and US markets. From there, they began to take over the world.
Today, most e-cigarettes use a battery powered heating element rather than the earlier ultrasonic technology, but the basic concept remains the same.
In its infancy, vaping was extremely simple – most looked like cigarettes (often called ‘cig-a-like’) and were often disposable. Most often they are considered an entry-level vaping device designed to replace smoking through mimicking the cigarette experience as closely as possible. They are a first choice for the person looking to give up or reduce their smoking.
By the mid-00s, the vape pen had become the most popular choice on the market. A cylindrical tube-style vape, which offers a larger range of styles and colours, as well as refillable cartridges and increased battery size for longer running times.
These types of pens opened up the market to the possibility of swapping atomisers and cartridges, as well giving users control over the voltage and wattage, which controls the size of the vape cloud.
This addition to the market positioned vaping as a hobby and soon the sub-culture was dominated by intricate vape builds, vaping tricks, as well as competitions and regular vaping meetups.
Most recently, the vaping market has turned towards pod vaping – a mini vape based on a two-part system. Sometimes they have power buttons but often they are automatic, meaning you just have to take a drag to create the vapour.
These types of vape are simpler and more user friendly than a lot of vape pens and are designed to help smokers make the transition into vaping. The main benefits of pod vapes are their convenience and simplicity, using less vape liquid and also the ability to instantly change flavours.
The pod vapes are always designed to look good and are also very easy to charge through USB port connections. The most common brands you see for pod vapes are Juul, Sourin, and Smok, each offering a discrete way for people to move on from cigarettes.
The demand for vaping is only increasing, even tobacco companies, who initially dismissed e-cigarettes at first, have come on board the vaping revolution, offering their own cigarette-like vapes. It is estimated that there are 3 million vapers in the UK, and with traditional cigarette smoking becoming less popular, this is a market that is sure to continue growing.