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From Smoke to Steam – The History of Vaping

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Some would say we’re experiencing a turning point in history – a point where people are becoming aware of the dangers of smoking and are moving to greener pastures - the world of vaping. A phenomenon that has taken the world by storm, millions have taken up the change in a drive to a healthier, smoke-free future, while growing a rising community of vapers that is expanding year after year. But where did it all begin? What was the turning point that drove this mass social change? The history of vaping stretches back more than 50 years, and will continue to change and evolve as the technology becomes more adapted and more people make the decision to leave smoking behind. [caption id="attachment_1692" align="aligncenter" width="343"]Herbert A. Gilbert - Creator of the First E-Cigarette Herbert A. Gilbert - Creator of the First E-Cigarette[/caption] The invention of the first e-cigarette is attributed to Herbert Gilbert, who in 1963 filed a patent for a “…smokeless nontobacco cigarette” which could “…provide a safe and harmless means [and] method of smoking by replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavoured air”. This initial design included many aspects found in modern e-cigarettes, including changeable flavour cartridges, replaceable batteries, heating insolation, and an aesthetic design resembling a traditional cigarette. Cited benefits of Gilbert’s invention included administering inhaled medication to people with respiratory problems, “smoking” without fire or burn hazards, and providing a smoking alternative that did not included unpleasant smoke, handling a burning object, or causing lung damage. However, despite numerous attempts to market his new invention, Gilbert’s prototypes never took off commercially. Various explanations have been put forth for this lack of success, including smoking being fashionable at the time, less public concern about the health effects of  smoking, little accessibility, market protectionism, being “ahead of its time”, or simply poor marketing. Gilbert has claimed in interviews that the established tobacco companies he showed his design to simply waited for the patent to expire to manufacture their own e-cigarettes. Whatever the reason, the rise of vaping would slumber for some years before re-emerging in the 21st century. The term ‘Vaping” has its origins traced to another smoking alternative, the Favour cigarette, developed in the late 70’s by computer engineer J. Phillip Ray & Dr. Norman L. Jacobson, who jointly created a nicotine-soaked paper cigarette that allowed for direct inhalation of nicotine without the added harmful ingredients of traditional cigarettes and without needing or producing a flame. Initial marketing & production was promising, and several studies found the Favour both a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes & a helpful method of quitting smoking. However, as liquid nicotine evaporates quickly, Favour cigarettes had to be Vaped quickly after being produced, else they would produce a very unpleasant taste for the user. While the Favour only lasted about 2 years before production was halted, the terms “Vaping” & “Vaper” both originating from this nifty device, have stuck to this day. [caption id="attachment_1691" align="aligncenter" width="544"]The original Electroinc Cigarette The original Electroinc Cigarette[/caption] The modern e-cigarette was patented in 2003, after 2 years of development under Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. Driven by the death of his father (a lifelong smoker) by lung cancer, Lik decided to quit smoking himself and develop a healthier, vapour-based alternative. Lik’s design gained traction in China shortly after its introduction. By 2006, E-cigarettes were being sold in Europe & North America, and would soon be found across the planet. The first E-cigarettes were “cigarette-a-likes”, resembling a traditional cigarette, and were marketed as a solution to help quit smoking. The health effects of vaping, and its status as an alternative to smoking, caused a fair amount of controversy the world over – a debate that continues to this day. In 2008 Turkey was the first nation to ban e-cigarettes, a decision prompted by concerns over the nicotine content and harmful chemicals found in certain e-liquids. A report by the World Health Organization that same year put into question the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as an aide to quit smoking. Since then, numerous studies and debates, both pro- and anti- vaping, have emerged and brought about bans & regulations of varying severity in many nations. Some have vaping banned altogether - such as Mexico, Turkey, & Brazil – while others have restrictions on nicotine-based e-liquids. Vaping remains a controversial subject for many – the United States Food & Drug Administration’s decision in May 2016 to classify e-cigarettes & vaping products as tobacco products caused outrage among many in the vaping community, as tobacco products have restrictions on sale & importation in the United States. Similar controversies can be found often when a nation introduces or changes laws or regulations classifying vaping products as tobacco products, restricting sale or promotion of vaping products, or ruling whether vaping is allowed in public places or indoors. The modern phenomenon of vaping has a long and storied history, and has evolved over the years into what it is today. In addition to a method to quit smoking, Vaping has become a lifestyle for many, and the availability of E-cigarettes, Mods, 1000s of Flavored E-Liquids, and accessories continues to grow alongside the number of Vapers worldwide. Public opinion towards vaping has been gradually improving since its introduction, as people become more confident of the benefits of vaping over smoking & the international vaping community continues to grow & thrive. As for the future of Vaping – only time will tell. - Jeremy

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