The History of Vaping

E-cigarettes hit the U.S. market over a decade ago, but there's a reason why the vaping revolution has picked up steam over the past few years. 🌬️

Big tobacco helping smokers quit?

Vaping has quickly taken the world by storm. In 1963, Young Korean war veteran Herbert A. Gilbert submitted a patent for an electronic smokeless cigarette device. But back then cigarettes were socially acceptable, and his device failed to catch on. The first commercially successful e-cigarette appeared on the Chinese market in 2004 — as a way to stop or cut down on smoking. Dubbed the safe cigarette, the device entered the U.S. market in 2007. It became a widespread trend 3 years later, when actress Katherine Heigl vaped for the first time on TV during The Late Show with David Letterman.

Manufacturers have been marketing e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking — without any clinical trials on to show their long-term health impact. This follows a familiar marketing cycle that can be traced back to Big Tobacco. In 2013, as cigarettes sales plummeted, the booming vaping market caught the attention of Big Tobacco companies. In 2015, JUUL Labs launched a device that quickly revolutionized the growing industry. Ruby Johnson, Mother of teen vaping victim states that, “All of the big tobacco companies now are going into e-cigarettes in a very big way. So, think about it for a moment. Do you really think that RJ Reynolds, and Philip Morris and Lorillard want to help smokers quit?”.

The brand relies heavily on social media to market its products, which includes many flavors that appeal to young people. By 2018, JUUL had taken over Âľ of the U.S. e-cigarette market. The same year, Altria, the US owner of the Marlboro brand, acquired a 35% stake in JUUL. Between 2017 and 2018, the FDA found a 75% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school students. The agency declared teen vaping an epidemic. And in the summer of 2019 at least 6 people died from lung illness after vaping. This led to a barrage of criticism and sales ban.