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Who Invented Vapes?

October 07, 2023

It seemed like a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. One day, there were no vapes; the next, everyone had one - even your Mom. They had different names back then. To begin with, it was electronic cigarettes - or e-cigs - and at some point, someone tried to make ENDS happen (electronic nicotine delivery systems).

But how did this happen? Where did they come from? And who invented them? We look at the history and evolution of vape devices and answer all your questions. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

The Historical Concerns Surrounding Smoking

You may be surprised to learn that concerns over the health implications of smoking (specifically tobacco) go as far back as 1575. At this time, it was church leaders who noticed issues with the people who smoked in their parishes. But science was still primitive then, and a good understanding of how our bodies reacted to substances was less known. That meant that the church leaders' concerns did not progress into much change.

The next significant concern came some two hundred years later by Benjamin Rush. Yes, that Benjamin Rush - the founding father and signatory of the Declaration of Independence himself. As the 'father of modern psychiatry,' Rush noticed that chronic tobacco use led to many ailments of the mind and body in 1798.

While this discovery had more of an impact than the concerns of the church leaders, it wasn't until the early 1950s that scientists worldwide started putting significant efforts into researching the effects of smoking on users. Though the tobacco industry tried its best to refute this (to a certain degree of success), this research became the jumping board for modern science to be able to confirm the severe health impacts of smoking and lead to the anti-smoking guidance and information we have today.

In fact, the same research led to investigations into a less harmful way to get our nicotine hits.

What Were the Early Innovations in Vaporizing Technology?

Interestingly, the first idea for what would be a vape device was way back in 1927 - decades before the mainstream world of science was seriously looking into the adverse effects of smoking. Joseph Robinson designed what he called an 'electric vaporizer' that he hoped would remove the dangers of being burnt by a cigarette. It was patented in 1930.

While the electric vaporizer didn't get its moment of fame, a few decades later, Herbert Gilbert happened to invent something very similar. He called it the 'smokeless,' and it was patented in 1963. It had ten flavours, and at one point, Gilbert even tried marketing it as a weight-loss device, insisting that you could vape your favourite foods. Unfortunately, he could find no company willing to produce it on a mass scale, and his patent expired.

So, several inventors throughout the 20th century figured out how to make vape devices work, but it wasn't until the early 2000s that things got serious.

The Modern Evolution of E-Cigarettes

Nowadays, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to vape devices. There are at least three devices on the market today with varying degrees of customization options. And while they went through a wild time regarding what they were called, we're at a point where the word 'vape' is a recognizable term worldwide.

That's all thanks to a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik, credited with inventing the first modern-day vape device in 2003. He was inspired to create the device - a safer alternative to cigarettes - when his Dad unfortunately died of lung cancer due to his smoking habit. It's safe to say he succeeded.

In 2006, the device was allowed into the US by customs, and the rest - as they say - is history. Big brands that would eventually become household names came onto the market around 2015, and each year since, there have been upgrades to the devices.

The Future of Vaping and Regulatory Measures

In 2023, vaping is widespread worldwide and shows no signs of slowing. Advancements in technology, safety measures, and continued interest mean the vaping industry has high hopes for the future. Although there are legal and health discussions, most of these surround the effects on children, and therefore, with better regulation, the hopes are for a fruitful future for adult vapers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Invented Vaping and Why?

While the first known vape device idea was invented in 1927 by Joesph Robinson, the parent of the vapes we know and love today, is the one designed by Hon Lik. He created an electronic cigarette device to counter the traditional cigarette in 2003, and it's credited as the first successful vape device.

Who Invented Vapes and When?

Modern-day vapes were invented by Hon Lik in 2003 as an attempt to create a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes. Before Hon Lik's invention, both Joseph Robinson and Herbert Gilbert patented vape concepts in 1930 and 1963, respectively.

Final Thoughts

The long history of discovering the adverse impacts of smoking traditional cigarettes led to vape device concepts in the 20th century. Two main concepts were patented but never mass-produced, and it wasn't until 2003 that Hon Lik created the first modern-day vape.

Since then, the industry has gone from strength to strength and shows no signs of slowing. For all your vaping equipment and e-liquids, check out RELX now.

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