History of Vaping from Creation to the Present Day

The HIstory of Vaping from Creation to the Present Day is a complete look at how vaping has become what it is today. We look at all major events and see just how certain roles played a part in the history of vaping. By looking at rulings the FDA has made and studies that have taken place we are able to see just how vaping has grown into what it is today.
History of Vaping from Creation to the Present Day

Now the History of Vaping has been widely discussed since its conception in 1963. There have been thousands of innovations and improvements made since then but none of that would have been possible without Herbert A. Gilbert. Join us as we take you through the major developments in vaping. From the people behind the vape to the science of vaping, we will cover it all. The information in this article will start with the invention of vaping and take us all the way to the present day climate including the laws that will be affecting the vaping community. While we won't dive into many specific devices you can check out our collection of articles on our most popular devices.

Now it is important to note that there are various minor developments that occurred in the history of vaping. We are focusing on the major developments that got us to where we are today. For example, in the 1990s numerous patents were set forth for e-cigarettes. Yet is important to note that many of these played no significant role in the creation of the electronic cigarette. There are also many instances of which the FDA denies e-cigarettes from entering the market. Some of which will be covered in more detail later on in the article.

The Origins of E-Cigarettes

Now we have already covered the man who invented vaping in Who invented Vaping. But Herbert A. Gilbert is a legend in the vaping world and rightfully so. Without him laying the blueprints there might not be vaping as we know it today. In 1963 he applied for his first e-cigarette patent. In 1965 it was granted to him. This allowed him to create the first nicotine free electronic cigarette. He replaced the typical tobacco flavor with different flavors that introduced the world to something never before seen.

During his time the batteries used were inefficient making his models impractical and not for commercial use. But as technology improved so did battery capacity and capability. This unleashed a whole new battery which allowed for massive power and energy storage in a much smaller size. This is what allowed for vaping to become commercially viable. Unfortunately for Gilbert, these technological advances came too late and he was never able to see his dream come to fruition. This is where the batton gets passed to Hon Lik and the history of vaping is forever changed.

Nearly 40 years later Ho Lik was able to capitalize on what Herbert A. Gilbert had laid forth. He was spurred from his father passing away from lung cancer. This lead him to become a pioneer in the vaping field and creating many of the components still used in vaping today. After much experimentation, he settled on two liquids that we still use today in our e-liquid bases. One is Vegetable Glycerin and the other Propylene Glycol. Once Lik found the right liquids it was time to build a system that would allow him to vape his liquid.

Herbert A. Gilbert
Herbert A. Gilbert

The first of many FDA Snags

In 1998 there was a patent filed by a major tobacco company. They wanted to bring the first "version of an e-cigarette to market c.1998. The FDA denied the request on the basis of it being an unapproved drug delivery device"(Csaa.org). Since the device would be delivering nicotine and other liquids (PG and VG) the FDA denied the request. They made it so that it was a long time before people even began asking the FDA for permission once again. It is not clear as to why people stopped asking but after 1998 not many attempts to bring electronic cigarettes to market through the FDA were brought about. Luckily Hon Lik released his product not as a drug delivery device but just as a simple electronic cigarette, meaning it did not have to be subjected to the FDA.

FDA Image

Some Notes On NIDs

Now, let's hope forward a bit in the history of vaping to talk about arguably the most important technological progressions behind the science of vaping. The nicotine inhaler device (NID) is used as a form of nicotine replacement therapy with a plastic cigarette-like tube that houses a replaceable nicotine cartridge and a mouthpiece. Nicotine is released with Less than 5% of the nicotine reaching the respiratory tract. Throughout the early 2000s, a large number of patents for the NIDs were filed by both inventors and tobacco companies.

Most of the early NIDs relied on either evaporation or propulsion to function. However, there were a few designs similar to a modern e-cigarette. A similar device would be the heat not burn device by Reynolds that works takes from both combustion cigarettes and nicotine inhalers. However, as usual, the FDA strikes again by denying the devices on the basis of it being an “unapproved drug delivery device.”


Lithium batteries, the first major breakthrough in the science of vaping. Without this, there might not be a History of Vaping. Vaping may still be confined to larger machines that are next to impossible to lug around. This is what allowed Hon Lik in 2003 to create the first successful commercial e-cigarette. This new battery was lighter, faster, and cheaper and this allowed for Lik to make use of them in his vaping devices. Up until this time in the 1990s they were relying on the process of nicotine evaporation. Powerful batteries allowed for the use of atomizers and many of the pieces we have become familiar with.

With the batteries in place Hon Lik was now able to create the electronic cigarette we see today. While he did not create the bigger mods that we see today he is credited with the smaller electronic cigarettes. The ones that look nearly identical to your traditional cigarette. This is what allowed us to stem off and create vaping as we know today.

LittoKala Battery

Emergence of Vaping

Once Hon Liks device hit the market it was a success. Of course, not everyone was willing to switch and there was some hesitation to switch over but it soon took hold. Without his device taking hold, the vaping industry may have died off right then and there. But from his invention, it spread around the world. While Hon Lik initially marketed his invention in China. It was quickly adopted in Europe in 2006 and soon made its way to the United States in 2006/2007. The first import case was in 2006.

From this, the industry exploded into what we see today. At first, the industry made millions, but now the industry is expected to rake in over 44.6 billion in 2023. This growth is unprecedented and it is clearly an indication of an industry on the rise. Of course with this, there has been plenty of controversy and turmoil that has followed the industry. From the FDA to nations actually taking stands against vaping. We will dive more into detail about what certain campaigns and nations are saying, but first, let's start with Turkey.

Turkish Health Ministry

In March of 2008, the Turkish government decided to halt the sale of electronic cigarettes. They deemed them just as harmful as traditional cigarettes. And that nicotine is the most dangerous element in all of the 4,800 chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. If you're looking to learn a bit more about nicotine check out this article on it and its effects.

The Turkish government took a semi stand when it came to this though. While the sale of electronic cigarettes is prohibited in stores you are still able to purchase them online. So it was not necessarily a countrywide ban, rather it was a regulation of where they can be sold.

World Health Organization

With this news, the World Health Organization (WHO) also jumped aboard and states that electronic cigarettes are not a legitimate smoking cessation device and should not be classified as such. This happened in 2007. WHO also declares that anything suggestion that WHO approves of the use of electronic cigarettes be removed from that device. This was one of the biggest moments in the history of vaping. It was a major setback for the vaping community. Since then there have been strides forward in the science behind vaping. This has to lead to more studies and more favorable conclusions of the effects of vaping. Let's continue along on our journey through the history of vaping.

Ruyan Funds a Study

Now there are some important facts that must be discussed before we even head into just what the study entailed. Ruyan is the company of Hon Lik (one of the founders of vaping). Hon Lik brought to us the first commercial electronic cigarette and advocated for its use. When WHO ruled that the devices he created were not useful smoking cessation devices Ruyan decided to take it into their own hands. He funded a study to find out the true effects of smoking such devices.

In the study, it was concluded that these carcinogens and the toxins that the WHO had warned about were found but only in levels so small that they would not be classified as harmful to humans. This same study found that smoking electronic cigarettes as opposed to traditional smoking was 100-1000 times safer. While it is true that these electronic cigarette devices do contain nicotine. And that can be an extremely addictive chemical. The other chemicals that are found in traditional cigarettes were either not present or not present in significant amounts.

You can find some of the study's findings and more at researchgate. These findings help show in detail just how much safer electronic cigarettes are than traditional cigarettes. science of vaping.

History of Vaping – The Late 2000s/Early 2010s

Even after some positive light was shed on e-cigarettes there was a conservative effort on the part of many major nations to take them off the market. From 2008-2012 a multitude of nations including Australia, Jordan, Canada, China, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Thailand, and Singapore all banned the importation of these devices. Many of these countries labeled nicotine as poison and unless it was used in a marketed cessation device it needs to be banned. Some countries even went as far as to state that the chemicals found in electronic cigarettes are as dangerous or even more dangerous than those found in traditional cigarettes. Let's take a look at a few notable countries and the rulings they made.


In 2009 Australia dismissed all the recent studies that showed vaping may not be as bad as traditional smoking. Instead, they decided to ban the sale and use of such devices. The science behind vaping showed otherwise yet in 2009 all electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine were to be banned. The Australian government announced that “every form of nicotine except for replacement therapies and cigarettes are classified as a form of poison.” They imposed this ban on shops and made sure that people who did use an electronic cigarette did so without the use of nicotine. To the Australian government, it was the nicotine who was the main culprit.

Jordan's Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health in Jordan also followed suit and banned the importation of electronic cigarettes. They also claimed that electronic cigarettes can be more dangerous than traditional cigarettes. Nicotine was also the main culprit in the findings.

Other Countries

Other Countries quickly follow suits such as Canada, China, and Panama. All these countries start cracking down hard on the use of these devices. They make sure that these devices are not used in their country with some even imposing fines or even jail time if people are caught using them.

FDA Steps In

The FDA once again cracked down hard in 2009 adding an import alert to U.S. Customs. This alert basically stated that electronic cigarettes were not to be allowed into the country because they are an unapproved drug delivery device. The FDA during this time has gained the right to regulate all such transactions. They are now able to dictate just when and how electronic cigarettes are allowed to be used in the United States. And now the History of Vaping gets that much more complicated. Arguments begin to arise both for and against electronic cigarettes.

This leads to a major electronic cigarette company (Smoking Everywhere) to file an injunction against the FDA. They claim that the FDA has no right to be regulating electronic cigarettes. They contend that the FDA has no right to regulate electronic cigarettes as they are a tobacco product. Congress has previously ruled that the FDA cannot infringe on anything tobacco-related. Smoking Everywhere also contends that e-cigarettes are not drug delivery systems nor drugs. So the FDA has no right to regulate them/ban them from entering the United States.

During the same time, people were calling upon the FDA to step up and enforce harsher penalties on the electronic cigarette market. 2009 was a year full of turmoil that saw many people go back and forth on just what the rulings should be. Associations were formed on both sides. During this time the FDA also begins to conduct its own test on electronic cigarettes. They find that there are comparable levels of nicotine in electronic cigarettes to that of other smoking cessation devices.

Obama's Ruling

Like we said previously, 2009 was a year where many battles were fought. During June of 2009, President Obama signs the "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which gives the FDA the right to rule over the tobacco industry. This now means that the FDA has the power to outright ban certain flavors and make manufacturers go through a process to get their devices approved. Essentially the FDA cannot ban electronic cigarettes but they gained massive control over the industry.

Over the next couple of years more associations form and arguments continue for the use/ban of such devices. We should also take the time to note that these arguments still continue today and that the history of vaping has just begun. More countries ban the use of electronic cigarettes. During the next few years, many smaller rulings are made and the first "Vapefest" is held in Virginia. Then in 2011, a few major rulings are made:

History of Vaping – February 2011

A study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that states that electronic cigarettes are a promising tool to help smokers quit. The study also found that it produced better results than more traditional smoking cessation devices. This is promising news for electronic cigarette supporters and new information that the FDA must now process when making judgments on such devices.

History of Vaping – April 2011

In April 2011 a major announcement regarding the FDA was made. The FDA stated that it will now begin regulating electronic cigarettes the same way they regulate traditional cigarettes. They also make the distinction that if any of these devices with to market themselves as a smoking cessation device they will be regulated more strictly. In these cases they will be treated more like a drug in the process they must go through.

History of Vaping – August 2011

Shortly after the FDA revealed that they will be regulating the industry more like traditional cigarettes a study was released that shows that many previous smokers are using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. This study was released in the "Addiction" Journal. This study also notes that many people are using these devices as an alternative to traditional smoking. They may be using the same amount of nicotine, but electronic cigarettes don't contain as many other chemicals as a traditional cigarette.

Other News

In the coming months and remainder of 2011 and 2012, many hearings are made and vaping conventions held. More countries impose more serious threats and in some cases crackdown with even more regulation. The FDA held a convention to talk about the use of electronic cigarettes. This was one of the more crucial moments in the history of vaping as it brought the FDA together with many distributors, users, and manufacturers. This allows the FDA to hear many sides of the story and help shape their view on electronic cigarettes in the coming years.

History of Vaping – Major events of 2013

On January 2013 a petition to “prevent the FDA from regulating or banning the sale and use of electronic cigarettes, accessories and associated liquids” was sent to the white house. The petition was able to gain over 25000 signatures and as a result, the FDA responded a year later in April 2014. However, the response was as expected of the FDA largely non-responsive. This is the second petition sent with the first being sent in 2011 and only amassing 5,000 signatures.

One of the best examples of the FDA's non-responsive was found by the Government Accountability Office Report. The report shows that from June 25, 2010- June 25, 2013, the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) made a final decision on only 6 of the 3,788 Substantial Equivalence (SE) application submissions.

In October 2013 the European Union released a press release with the purpose of rejecting the wholesale band on the sale of e-cigarettes: “E-cigarettes should be regulated, but not be subject to the same rules as medicinal products unless they are presented as having curative or preventive properties. Those for which no such claims are made should contain no more than 30mg/ml of nicotine, should carry health warnings and should be sold to anyone under 18 years old. Manufacturers and importers would also have to supply the competent authorities with a list of all the ingredients that they contain. Finally, e-cigarettes would be subject to the same advertising restrictions as tobacco products.”

The final major event of 2013 is the first-ever e-cigarette summit held in London at the royal society. The purpose of this summit is to present all available science and evidence on e-cigarettes to help inform the public health and policy debates that were being held in the run-up to the vote on the European Tobacco Products Directive.

History of Vaping – Major events of 2014

The single most important event to occur in the History of Vaping occurred between 2014-2016 the proposal and finalization of the deeming rule. The deeming rule came about as a result of pressure from both Democrats in Congress and private special interest groups. For example even Marlboro manufacturer Altria was applying pressure in an attempt to subject vaping products to the same rules and restrictions that cigarette producers were subject to.

On April 24, 2014, the FDA released its proposed regulations. As expect the regulations were just as bad as most pro-vapors had feared. The proposed rule if left in its current form would end up eliminate almost all of the vaping industry aside from some products made by Big Tobacco. This would occur as a result of the manufacturers now being forced to submit premarket tobacco applications for all existing products within two years after the final rule was issued.

history of vaping

Proposed Regulation

The regulations also required that the manufacturers also include an application for every component/part as well as an extensive toxicological test and study which would cost millions FOR EACH PRODUCT submitted. The best part of this is the fact that the FDA did not even have the decency to at least add guidance for the standards that the FDA expected from manufacturers.Another noteworthy regulation The FDA included is that each product had to benefit public health instead of just individuals which requires studies on uptake by non-smokers and ex-smokers too.

After releasing the proposed regulations the FDA gave the public a chance to make comments. It was at this moment that the owner of Camel cigarettes a big tobacco company decides to give the FDA the blueprints needed to destroy the vaping industry. He suggested that the FDA should ban outright the separate components that create the e-cigarettes examples would be mods, atomizers, and coils. The reasoning behind this being that the “products are highly customizable. As a result, there is no way to adequately evaluate how such a product will work or to establish whether the consistency of product composition and quality can be maintained.”

History of Vaping – Major event of 2016

The finalized deeming rule is announced on May 5, 2016. At this point, the FDA has created a maze of regulations in the hopes of discouraging Small vaping bushiness. The new regulations required that all components and parts applications would have to show how each device might work with any other component it could be combined with. This was done in an attempt at limiting the number of premarket tobacco applications it would receive. For example, if your vaping bushiness wants to sell a coil you would have to test it with every other device and e-liquid commercially available. This would be almost impossible to accomplish both time and money-wise. The excuse for this was that it was to prove that it was “appropriate for the protection of public health.”

The FDA’s “Guidance for Industry” was 58 pages long. However, this document did not set a technical standard so vaping companies still had no idea what would make the product acceptable for regulators. Resulting in a complicated and rather pointless instruction manual that does not show the information you actually need. At this point, There was no immediate flavor ban though it is still a possibility in the future. In the regulations, the makers of vaping products are to be considered tobacco manufacturers.

The deeming regulations would take effect on Aug. 8, 2016, and some of the provisions would be enacted immediately. Other parts of the Deeming Rule would be rolled out over a two-year schedule. The final requirement would be due by Aug. 8, 2018.

History of Vaping – FDA Regulation changes from 2017 to 2019

The changes from 2017 to now are fairly short and simple so I will list them here.

History of Vaping – 2017

  • Any domestic business that manufactures, prepares, compounds or processes tobacco products must be registered with the FDA and will be known as tobacco product manufacturers.
  • These manufacturers need to provide a full list of all products to the FDA. This list needs to include all advertising and labeling done for each product.
  • Labels and advertising can not contain descriptors mild, low, or light. The FDA states that “All required label and labeling statements must be prominent and in such terms that render it likely to be read and understood.”
  • Manufacturers need to provide the FDA with Tobacco Health Documents.( except small-scale tobacco product manufacturers)
  • To be considered as a small-scale tobacco product manufacturers you need to have 150 or fewer employees and annual total revenues of $5 million or less.

History of Vaping – 2018 and Beyond

  • Manufacturers need to provide the FDA with ingredient listings.
  • All Product packages and ads need to contain the addictiveness warning statement “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”
  • The warning must follow size and format requirements.
  • Product packages and ads of covered tobacco products that do not contain nicotine may bear an alternative warning statement: “This product is made from tobacco.”
  • Manufacturers must submit a self-certification to the FDA.
  • Manufacturers need to report all harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHC’s) to the FDA.
  • August 8, 2022 is the last day to submit PMTA’s for products that were on the market on Aug. 8, 2016. Products may remain on the market until the FDA rules on the application or the application are withdrawn.
  • August 8, 2022, is the Last day for manufacturers to submit a substantial equivalence application.
  • Tobacco products will be considered misbranded unless they bear a label containing the following information:
  • The name and place of business. Quantity of the contents. Percentage of domestic and foreign-grown tobacco. The statement: “Sale only allowed in the United States” on labels, packaging, and shipping containers of tobacco products.

Wrap it Up

So if there is one takeaway from this piece it has to be that the vaping industry has faced immense turmoil. The History of Vaping has been peppered with amazing technological advances. The science of vaping has brought the industry to where it is today. Yet it is arguable that the same science that has propelled the industry is the same reason it has struggled to get to where it is. While many studies have been conducted it is still unclear or uncertain in many people's minds what the benefits and drawbacks of such devices are. This is the main reason the history of vaping has had so many hard-fought victories and defeats. With new regulations beings passed almost every month it seems, this history is ever-evolving and what may be the case today may be completely different tomorrow.

ProVapor wants to thank you for taking the time to learn about the history of vaping. We have included the most important events from our point of view and have left out a number of smaller details. The events we included ensure that the reader gets a great understanding of the whole landscape of vaping from the past all the way up to today and beyond. As always Happy Vaping from the ProVapor Family. For more information about the history of vaping check out these websites:


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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.