In less than a decade, vaping has evolved from cheap cigarette imitations, to complex personal vaporizers that fire huge coils at low ohms. The popularity of the electronic cigarette has exploded. Brick and mortar vape shops seem to be popping up on every street corner, and smokers can access ecig technology at the local convenience store. How did we get here? And how has vaping evolved?
Vaping proto technology has been around since at least the 1960s. The first modern electronic cigarette is credited to Hong Lik, a Chinese inventor, in 2003. Early ecigarettes typically were modeled after cigarettes and cigars, giving us the “cigalike” type, thin 510 batteries and liquid filled cartridges. These cigalike batteries are still prevalent in the convenience store market. Poor battery life, inefficient draw, and limited vapor make these ecigs an unpopular choice, except among those experimenting with the electronic cigarette for the first time.
Next on the scene for smokers looking to give up smoking completely were the eGo style vape pens, cartomizers and CE4 clearomizers. The simple eGo tube batteries were larger and had longer battery life. The cartridges were both more durable and refillable, with changeable wicks so that users could use and reuse the items. Plastic clearomizers eventually gave way to glass tanks and ego batteries evolved into variable voltage batteries.
During this time, there was almost no restrictions on vaping and electronic cigarette devices. The vaping phenomenon was relatively new, and people were often confused seeing someone vape in public. Is it smoke or what is it?, some would ask. Most vapers were free to vape in public places, at work, and at home. There were no age restrictions for purchasing these items and the source materials to create eliquids were available to all.
The third wave of ecigarettes brought us the mechanical mod, rebuildable atomizers, and eventually sub ohm vaping and regulated high wattage devices. As vaping became more popular, but the science and knowledge of vaping was less well known, vape restrictions begin to surface. Vapers preparing for the “vapocalyse” started to learn the mechanics of building an electronic cigarette, so the simple mechanical mod and the rda became more popular. With these methods also came unprotected, stacked batteries and some explosions along the way. Vapers loved the increased power of the mech mod and the custom coil, and wanted something safer, so the market for regulated box mods was born. Now even your grandmother has an iStick with a glass tank or even a simple sub ohm tank. As sub ohm vaping catches on, some wonder if we are leaving the smokers behind. Have we lost sight of the goals of vaping, or has vaping transformed to meet the needs of many different types of users?
With the evolution of vaping, vapers still need to advocate and educate leaders and elected officials about the benefits and safety of vaping. The need for vape science is vital. Pending FDA regulations seem to threaten to legislate vaping out of existence, if local vaping bans and onerous sales and production restrictions don't phase it out first. Vaping has come a long way in its short life span, and promises to completely change smoking technology forever.