Since the mid-20th century, medical professionals have long acknowledged that smoking tobacco is a potential health hazard to the smoker that could cause serious health disorders.
Quitting the habit cold turkey is difficult as the body becomes dependent on nicotine. This prompted Herbert Gilbert in 1963 to design something similar to cigars but still deliver the nicotine fix.
His patented design produced no smoke; hence it is a “smokeless cigar”. It failed to capture the market, and it eventually died out.
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History of Electronic Cigarettes
By the late 1990s, the masses have become aware that smoking also poses a danger to non-smokers due to second-hand smoke. Health departments worldwide have campaigned for higher taxes imposed on tobacco products.
Nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum and patches are given to smokers who want to kick the habit. These had been a partial success as smokers who wanted to quit prefer not to feel that they’re giving up tobacco.
From smoke into vapours: shifting from tobacco to nicotine
The solution came to a Chinese pharmacist in 2000. Hon Lik, also a heavy smoker, conceptualised the electronic cigarette through a dream he had while experiencing a severe lung infection.
The vapours he saw and his current condition inspired him to make a substitute.
By 2003, he had patented the prototype of the electronic cigarette. He gave one to his father, who had been suffering from lung cancer, yet had been able to enjoy it immensely.
It was marketed by the Golden Dragon Group the following year. The company had changed its name to Ruyan, meaning “smoke-like.” By 2006, e-cig has invaded Europe’s smoking market.
The following year, it took the United States by storm.
Vapour cigarettes’ fall from grace in the market
Despite its success in the market, there have been setbacks. In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) had prohibited manufacturers to claim that e-cigs can be used as an aid to stopping smoking.
Despite the studies done in New Zealand that showed toxic chemicals in e-cigs were below dangerous levels, Turkey’s Ministry of Health banned its use. Canada, Israel, Brazil, Jordan, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Australia followed suit.
These countries provided their citizens with different reasons for banning the use of electronic cigarettes, citing reasons such as other chemicals contained in the e-juice might pose a health risk or contain irritants.
The United States Food and Drug Administration required it to be regulated.
Return of E-cigarettes
Although 2009 had been a bane to electronic cigarettes, the subsequent year showcased different types of e-cigs and their users in an event known as the VapeFest, which was held in the United Kingdom.
Thailand and Singapore added to the growing list of countries that banned the importation and distribution of vapour cigarettes to their citizens.
Flying with e-cigarettes was also difficult due to the confusion in regulations from country to country.
However, users of e-cigs in the United States rejoiced when its Court of Appeals categorised the device under tobacco products.
The US FDA then classified it as a tobacco product, not regulated as a medical device. If the e-cigs claim and prove that these gadgets help curb addiction to nicotine, that’s when they’ll be classified as such.
With the onslaught of regulating authorities on E-cigs, manufacturers banded together in 2011 in a group known as the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA).
This did not stop South American countries such as Argentina and Venezuela from banning e-cigs in their locales. It did not impede US-based vapers from celebrating their victory to switch to vapour cigarettes.
They held the first-ever VapeStock in Florida and VapeCon in Virginia.
The last quarter of 2011 showed the silver lining under the clouds that vapour cigarettes have been subjected to.
Two journals (Addiction and BMC Public Health) have published studies that e-cigs have helped kick the habit way better than traditional nicotine replacement therapies.
In addition to these, the Behavioral Insights Team of the UK endorsed its use to combat smoking.
The ensuing year, VapeBash is celebrated in Illinois. Courts in Hawaii and Germany have allowed the use of e-cigarettes as it is categorised as tobacco product.
The Netherlands, Germany and Australia celebrate World Vaping Day on March 22.