Although there is some debate about the health risks associated with e-cigarettes, they are generally considered a significantly healthier alternative to smoking real cigarettes due to the lack of real smoke, tar and other harmful chemicals. To many people, e-cigarettes are simply a method for smokers to give up the habit. However, since their popularisation, e-cigarettes (as well as vaping using mods) have become something of a phenomenon.
The first e-cigarette design is actually over fifty years old. A patent was filed by American inventor Herbert A. Gilbert in 1963 for a device that created flavoured vapour instead of burning tobacco rolled in paper. At the time, however, a lack of interest in moving away from traditional cigarettes led to his invention being left on the sidelines for the most part.
It wasn’t until around four decades later that a Chinese scientist named Hon Lik created a very similar device that more closely resembles what we would recognise as an e-cigarette today. The essential part of the design is an element powered by electricity which vaporises a flavoured liquid to produce clouds of harmless “smoke” which could be inhaled in the same way a normal cigarette works. After slowly gaining market share in China, e-cigarettes started to become popular in Europe and the USA by the mid-2000’s. Hon Lik did not originally gain much financially from his success due to many high profile companies using his designs without permission for Western markets, although he successfully took legal action against several of them later.
Many of these companies saw considerable success in the early years of e-cigarettes, although a large number of people were unconvinced by the effectiveness of the early designs. This led many people interested in the concept of vaping to experiment with homemade devices capable of vaporising flavoured liquids, and “mods” started to become an emerging trend. Once people realised different effects could be achieved by altering various elements of the basic e-cigarette concept, companies soon followed and started producing mods commercially, which has since created an entirely new market.
Once traditional cigarette brands realised that e-cigarettes were not going to be a flash in the pan, they also started to get in on the act. The result we see today is a rich and diverse market focused on providing vaping enthusiasts with as much choice and freedom as possible. The most popular products on the market currently are generally the ones with the most options for customisation. Since e-cigarettes and commercially produced mods are a lot more effective and versatile than they were just a few years ago, they now represent a viable alternative to smoking as well as an opportunity for non-smokers to enjoy some of the benefits of vaping without the health risks associated with tobacco cigarettes.