Electronic Cigarette History
The primitive concept of an electronic cigarette can be traced to an idea by Herbert A. Gilbert, who in 1963 patented a device described as “a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” that involved “replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air.” This device heated the nicotine solution and produced steam. In 1967, Gilbert was approached by several companies interested in manufacturing it, but it was never commercialized and disappeared from the public record after 1967.
Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, is widely credited with the invention of the first generation electronic cigarette. In 2000, he came up with the idea of using a piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vaporize a pressurized jet of liquid containing nicotine diluted in a propylene glycol solution. This design produces a smoke-like vapor that can be inhaled and provides a vehicle for nicotine delivery into the bloodstream via the lungs. He also proposed using propylene glycol to dilute nicotine and placing it in a disposable plastic cartridge which serves as a liquid reservoir and mouthpiece. These inventions are the basis of the present-day electronic cigarettes.
The device was first introduced to the Chinese domestic market in May 2004 as an aid for smoking cessation and replacement. The company that Hon Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, changed its name to Ruyan (如烟, literally “Resembling smoking”), and started exporting its products in 2005–2006 before receiving its first international patent in 2007.
The second generation electronic cigarette, or modern electronic cigarette, was invented and introduced to market in 2008 by Dr. Yunqiang Xiu before receiving its international patents in 2009 & UK patent in 2011. The modern electronic cigarette featured the “tankomizer” (or sealed tank system and sealed atomizer technology). This is more useful for pharmaceutical and medical devices industries.