The first thing that comes to mind when talking about electronic cigarettes is probably not that they were invented all the way back in 1963, especially taking into account the fact that many think of them as a new “thing”. But that year is exactly when a man named Herbert A. Gilbert patented “a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette”. And although the invention was definitely ahead of its time, it unfortunately did not receive enough attention and had never been commercialized, reason being the vast popularity of smoking tobacco back then.
Not until 2001 did it occur to anyone to try and finish what Herbert A. Gilbert had started. The person who is credited for the modern invention of electronic cigarettes is a Chinese inventor and pharmacist Hon Lik, whose invention, intended to be an alternative to smoking, saw the light of the day in 2004 when it was first introduced to the Chinese domestic market.
In 2006 and 2007 electronic cigarettes entered the markets of Europe and the United States. As with all new things, when e-cigarettes entered the international markets, a lot of users were not quite satisfied with their performance, thus provoking continuous evolution of the first generation device, with most notable examples of it being the cartomizer, a mechanism which is used to integrate the heating coil into the liquid chamber, and the “screwdriver”, which provides a longer-lasting battery. The trend of customizing various parts of the vaporizer is called “modding”.
At the first international tobacco conglomerates dismissed the idea of electronic cigarettes. But once they realized its true potential as a completely new market sector, they began to develop their own e-cigarettes and also started buying existing e-cigarette companies, therefore expanding their businesses. Today, e-cigarettes are known worldwide, with many websites such as purevape.com selling e-juices and vaping mods, and also shipping them around the globe.
Naturally, e-cigarettes have become a huge trend since their launching, with many different communities and forums, such as the Electronic Cigarette Forum and UKVaper.org showing support for what is generally considered a safer, customizable way of smoking.
From that, a whole subculture of “vapers” had emerged, accompanied by a certain lifestyle that follows. There are annual vaping gatherings, better known as vape meets, all across the globe, dedicated to the experience of using e-cigarettes.
As of 2010, a festival known as Vapefest started taking place in the city of Shrewsbury in the UK. People who use low-resistance heating coils to produce enormous amounts of vapor are called “cloud-chacers”. Even though this practice is popular, especially among younger audiences, it is not recommended because of safety reasons, namely the batteries in the vaporizers become overused to a potentially unsafe point.
Many different types of people use e-cigarettes, some are taking them a bit more seriously, while to others it’s a hobby, but most of them have a couple of things in common: a general dislike of “big tobacco”, followed by a constant search for the perfect e-juice or the perfect e-cigarette, and of course the passion for an enhanced, more distinctive and personal way of smoking.