Depending on how you look at it, electronic cigarettes have been around for either decades or just a few years. The first electronic cigarette patent, which was filed for smokeless devices, was in 1963. Electronic cigarettes weren’t officially brought into the U.S market until the late 2000’s. As you read through the history you will see what has happened since these electronic cigarettes (or personal vaporizers) first appeared.

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

Herbert A. Gilbert was the first person to visualize a smokeless cigarette, or at least the first person to file a patent for smokeless cigarettes. Unfortunately for Gilbert, it would be half a century before his technology caught up with his vision of smokeless cigarettes. Gilbert was forward thinking in seeing the true dangers of traditional tobacco cigarettes. Even if the technology had been available to produce electronic cigarettes, at that point in time smoking wasn’t considered to be unhealthy, so it’s doubtful that Herbert Gilbert would have found a market for his smokeless cigarette invention.

2003 – 2007: Electronic cigarette history really begins

China was the first country to understand the idea of a smokeless cigarette becoming a reality, thanks to Han Lik, a pharmacist’s and smoker. Han Lik’s motivation was his father, who died of lung cancer. Han Lik set out to develop a method that would allow traditional cigarette smokers to continue inhaling nicotine without the other harmful effects associated with tobacco smoke and hundreds of chemicals that put into cigarettes.

Europe was next market to embrace electronic cigarettes in 2006, and by 2007 electronic cigarettes were popping up in the United States.

2008: The World Health Organization (WHO) gives their opinion on electronic cigarettes and the first electronic cigarette studies were performed

In September of 2008, the WHO became the first major organization to state an opinion about smokeless cigarettes, but their opinion had nothing to do with the benefits or risks of vaping electronic cigarettes. Instead, they simply banned all references to electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.

In October of 2008, the first electronic cigarette study, funded by Ruyan, was conducted in New Zealand, which confirmed that there were no chemicals present in electronic cigarettes, which could be considered of being at toxic levels. More about their research could be found here.

2009: Research studies, legislation and lawsuits ensue

The majority of significant events in electronic cigarette history occurred in 2009, as smokeless cigarette products gained ground as a possible smoking alternative. Within the first three months of 2009, Canada and Australia imposed bans on smokeless electronic cigarettes. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in to stop shipments of electronic cigarettes and other smokeless cigarette products from entering the U.S. The FDA claimed that electronic cigarette products appeared to be “a combination drug-device product” that required that they be formally registered and listed with the FDA.

In the months of April and May, we saw that a few electronic cigarette companies began to fight back against the FDA’s claims by filing a lawsuit and eventually coming together to form the Electronic Cigarette Association. The Electronic Cigarette Association is an organization dedicated to making sure any legislation involving smokeless cigarettes or electronic cigarettes remain fair and truthful.

During the summer months of 2009, the attacks on electronic cigarettes grew stronger. The FDA claimed that electronic cigarettes posed a significant health hazard and that products that are mislabeled increased the health risk. Oregon and California then both enacted bans on electronic cigarette sales.

In the winter months of 2009, the state of New Jersey enacted a selective ban on electronic cigarettes, which prohibited them from being used in public. Meanwhile, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) was formed to promote smokeless cigarettes as a workable smoking alternative and supported the honest research of electronic cigarettes while disproving the false claims made by the FDA and other organizations regarding smokeless cigarette devices.

Present Day: Electronic cigarette history continues to unfold

As some states may have imposed bans on electronic cigarettes, they are still being sold in the United States. Opponents of electronic cigarettes and smokeless products continue to spread false claims about smokeless cigarettes, while consumer advocacy groups work to make sure these falsehoods don’t deprive Americans of a less-toxic smoking alternative.

For now, vapers of electronic cigarettes can still buy electronic cigarettes, and the FDA has yet to enforce a ban on e-liquid flavor options available at Vapor Delight today.