The History & Evolution Of The Vape Industry

The vaping industry has been around for a long time—far longer than most people think.

Vaping technology has evolved a lot over its history. 

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at the evolution of vaping:

Vaping in the 1900s

As early as the 1800s, doctors knew smoking could be harmful, but it was only in the 1900s that technology offered a way to inhale nicotine without smoking tobacco. 

In 1927, Joseph Robinson was granted a patent for an electric vaporizer that he claimed was designed for medicinal compounds. He filed the patent in 1927 (though there’s no evidence the device was ever created).

This is the first time the idea of something resembling an electronic cigarette or vaping device was put to paper (so far as we know).

In 1965, a man named Herbert Gilbert (it rhymes!) was granted a patent for a smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette—what many consider to be the first e-cigarette. He built several prototypes based on this patent (which he filed for in 1963), but the product never took off.

Things start heating up quickly after that. In 1979, computing pioneer Phil Ray worked with his physician Norman Jacobson to create an e-cigarette that vaporized nicotine. In the 1990s, Jed Rose (who invented the first nicotine patch) worked on a vaping product he called “distilled smoke”.

None of these products really took off—but they paved the way for the vapes we know today.

Vaping in the 2000s

The Volcano was released in the year 2000. That device was designed to vaporize “dry herb”—it could work for tobacco, but it was largely used to vaporize a somewhat greener leaf.

In 2003, pharmacist and smoker Hon Lik created the Ruyan, the first commercially available electronic cigarette. The origin story of the first commercially viable vape is tragic—Hon Lik began working on the device after his father (who was also a smoker) died of lung cancer. 

Hon Lik’s electronic cigarettes created the mould for modern e-cigarettes and vaping devices. His device used vape juice heated by a battery-powered heating element, which is what virtually all vaping devices use to this day.

By 2006, vapes were available in Europe and, soon after, in the USA.  Health authorities weren’t sure what to do with these new devices—in 2008, sales of e-cigarettes were banned in Turkey. In 2009, Australia and Jordan banned nicotine vaping devices, with Jordan citing health concerns brought up by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the same year is a flurry of activity: Health New Zealand hosts a study (funded by Ruyan) that finds carcinogens are found in below-toxic levels in vaping devices. The Obama administration begins to create legislation to restrict nicotine and tobacco marketing—including the ability to ban flavouring.

We could talk about the complex international legislation that targets e-cigarettes for days, but let’s move on to the 2010s!

Vaping in the 2010s

By the 2010s, a whole array of vaping devices were available on the market. E-cigarettes, box mods, and more. We had devices with temperature control (TC), a wide array of coils and wicks, and all kinds of incredible vape mods. The biggest shift in the market, however, had not yet appeared.

In 2015, Pax Labs introduced the JUUL, an e-cigarette that used nicotine salt instead of freebase nicotine. Their formulation allowed for stronger concentrations of nicotine. Its vapes were also sleekly designed and easy to use—the pod mod was born.

Today, a number of companies make pod mods—one of our favourites is STLTH, a Canadian company. 

The health risks of vapes are also better understood, with a number of governments (including the Government of Canada) recognizing that evidence points to vaping as a healthier alternative to cigarettes (and, thus, as a useful smoking cessation aid). 

We hope you enjoyed this brief zoom through vaping history! We’re out to make history at our Winnipeg vape shop by providing knowledgeable service, an array of top-tier products, stores around the city, and delivery.

In 2023, you can even buy disposable vapes. Visit one of our locations today! 
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