A Comprehensive History of E-Cigarettes

Depending on how you look at it, e-cigarette history spans either decades or a few short years. While the first patent for these smokeless devices was filed in 1963, they did not officially hit the U.S. market until the late 2000’s. Why did it take so long for electronic cigarettes to gain a foothold, and what has happened since they first appeared?

1963: The first patent appears, but the market isn’t ready

Herbert A. Gilbert was the first person to conceive of a smokeless cigarette, or at least the first to file a patent for this product. Unfortunately for Gilbert, it would be half a century before the technology caught up with his vision. Gilbert was also years ahead in seeing the true dangers of tobacco-based cigarettes. Even if the technology had been available to create electronic cigarettes, at that point in time, smoking wasn’t deemed unhealthy, so it’s unlikely Gilbert would have found a market for his invention.

2003 – 2007: E-cigarette history truly begins

China was the first country to see the idea of a smokeless cigarette become a reality, thanks to the pharmacist and smoker Han Lik. Lik’s inspiration was his father, who died of lung cancer. In response to the loss, the pharmacist set out to develop a method that would allow smokers to continue inhaling nicotine without the other harmful effects associated with tobacco smoke and cigarette manufacturing chemicals.

Europe was next to adopt electronic cigarettes in 2006, and by 2007 they had become more readily available in the U.S.

2008: The World Health Organization (WHO) weighs in and the first electronic cigarette studies are performedIn September 2008, the WHO became the first major organization to state an opinion about smokeless cigarettes, but it had nothing to do with their benefits or risks. Instead, they simply banned references to electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
Later that year the first electronic cigarette study came out of New Zealand, and it confirmed that there were no chemicals present in e-cigs which could be considered at toxic levels.

2009: Studies, legislation, and lawsuits ensue.

The majority of important events in e-cigarette history occurred in 2009, as these products gained ground as a viable smoking alternative. Within the first three months of that year, both Canada and Australia imposed bans on smokeless cigarettes, while in the United States, the FDA stepped in to stop shipments of electronic cigarettes from entering the country, claiming that the nature of these products required that they are formally registered.
April and May saw a few electronic cigarette companies begin to fight back against the FDA, filing a lawsuit and eventually banding together to form the Electronic Cigarette Association, an organization dedicated to making sure any legislation involving smokeless cigarettes remained fair and truthful.

As the summer of 2009 continued, the attacks on electronic cigarettes grew fiercer. The FDA claimed that e-cigs posed a significant health hazard and that mislabeled products increased the risk, while Oregon and California both imposed bans on smokeless cigarette sales. An Oregon attorney even filed a lawsuit against one manufacturer. He claimed, among other accusations, that the existence of flavored e-cig vapor constituted marketing nicotine products to minors.

Meanwhile, another study performed by an independent consulting firm refuted the FDA’s claims that electronic cigarettes were dangerous to users’ health.

In the winter of 2009, the state of New Jersey imposed a selective ban on electronic cigarettes, prohibiting them from being used in public. Elsewhere, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association formed to promote smokeless cigarettes as a viable smoking alternative and support honest research while refuting the untrue claims made by the FDA and others regarding these devices.


The government health agencies began to take notice as e-cigarettes became more popular. From 2012 to 2013, the intensive study on the effects of e-cigs took place. While many research organizations started to discredit the benefit of e-cigs, experts at the World Health Organization, or WHO argued that many of the results of those studies (including WHO-commissioned ones) were rife with errors, misinterpretations, and misrepresentations.

In September 2014, research published in The New England Journal of Medicine stated that “like conventional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes may function as a ‘gateway drug’ that can prime the brain to be more receptive to harder drugs.”

Today: E-cigarette history continues to be made.

While some states may have imposed successful bans, electronic cigarettes are still able to be sold in the United States. Opponents continue to spread falsehoods about smokeless cigarettes, while consumer advocacy groups and companies work to make sure these distortions don’t rob Americans of a less-toxic smoking alternative.

For now, vapers can still buy electronic cigarettes. The FDA has yet to legislate away flavored vape juice smokeless cigarettes, so enjoy your freedom by checking out some of the best vape juice flavor options available at kindjuice.com

Michael Scott
Michael Scott

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