E-cigarettes from 1963 to 2003
The first real electronic cigarette as we know it was invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist. However, in 1963 the American Herbert Gilbert invented a similar device. He has patent over the device and it was described as ‘a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette, replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, most, flavored air’. His plan was to make it commercial, but also available for the medical industry; he wanted doctors to use the device to heat up medicine so patient could inhale the medicine.
Gilbert’s e-cigarettes look quite similar to the electronic cigarettes invented by Hon Lik in 2003, but the way they work is different. The electronic cigarettes from Lik, the ones we use now, heat up a liquid which is vaporized and inhaled. The liquid inside the e-cigarettes is filled with nicotine and flavor. It becomes vapor. Herbert’s electronic cigarette heats up air. This air you suck up through a flavored filter. Gilbert’s e-cigarette actually produces steam.
Gilbert though his invention would make him the richest man alive, but unfortunately it didn’t. In a time where people were smoking tobacco cigarettes in movies, music videos en in public, nobody really cared about a safr, healthy way to smoke. There were no commercials telling you how smoking could harm your healthy. There were no texts on package telling your smoking kills you or kills your baby to scare you. We now all know smoking tobacco is harmful and an alternative is welcomes everywhere. However, in the 70’s it was not yet. Gilbert talked to many companies and most were actually interested in producing the electronic cigarettes. However, the plan never really got of the ground. The technology wasn’t advances enough so the costs of producing it were high and the risk of failure as well. In 1967 Gilbert’s e-cigarette totally disappeared to never heard of again.
In the 80’s an American tobacco company R.J Reynolds started thinking of a safer way to smoke. The concerns about smoking tobacco got bigger and the world was starting to realize the danger of smoking. The company started a secret investigation which they called project Spa. Spa had the goal to develop a safer cigarette, just like Gilbert’s idea in 1963. R.J Reynolds invested over a billion dollar in their project, but failed as well. In 1988 their ‘e-cigarette was launched: the premier cigarette should safe mankind from the terrible risks of tobacco cigarettes. Premier Cigarette didn’t burn tobacco like tobacco cigarettes, but heated aerosolized tobacco flavor.
The main problem of the Premier Cigarette was that it didn’t give the same kick as tobacco cigarettes. To get nicotine and to inhale smokers needed to drew much harder than with tobacco cigarette. In fact, tests showed people received to little nicotine that they would automatically switch back to tobacco cigarettes. R.J Reynolds started to do tests with crack. They filled the Premier Cigarette with crack and let people smoke it. Tests showed there was indeed almost no cocaine in the blood of testers. Although R.J Reynolds probably already knew his product was a failure, they didn’t stop marketing it and went on producing Premier Cigarettes. If were the smokers who intentionally kicked Premier Cigarettes off the market. Not because the didn’t get enough nicotine, they only tried for one or two time. They complained about the aftertaste (this tasted like charcoal) and found it too difficult to light a Premier Cigarette. After only one year the Premier Cigarette were withdrawn.
In 2003 Hon Lik invented the electronic cigarette as we now know it. The time was right, the technology was ready and the taste is perfect. Lik started creating his e-cigarette in 2000. He said he was inspired by a dream of himself drowning in an ocean when all of the sudden the sea vaporizes into fog. The first creation of his e-cigarette, Lik gave to his father who was dying of lung cancer. After his father’s dead Lik was even more determined to ‘follow his dream’. In 2003 the final creation was launched and developed. In 2004 the electronic cigarette was introduced in China by the name Ruyan. The success was so overwhelming the company Lik worked for and which had developed the e-cigarette, turned their name into Ruyan. In 2006 Europe followed and starting importing the electronic cigarette. In 2007 the United States followed this example.