The Vaping Crisis You’ve Been Hearing About

Let’s start with some history.

Vape scares and crises have been in the news for a while, and, though e-cigarettes didn’t really come on on the scene until 2003, it might surprise you to know that vaping has a history as far back as 440 B.C. Herodotus, a Greek historian, described placing cannabis flower on hot coals and inhaling the vapors in rituals to honor the dead.

Now, admittedly, from then to the 1930’s, not much happened in the realm of vape technology. However, in 1927, a patent for the first documented e-cigarette was filed by one Mr. Joseph Robinson.

Source: Google Patents

It’s unclear whether even a prototype of his vision was made, and it certainly wasn’t commercialized.

There was another dry spell from the 30’s until the 60’s when Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patent in 1963. He, too, was never able to commercialize his idea.

In 1979, a nice fella by the name of Phil Ray, one of the founders of Computer Terminal Corporation (today known as Datapoint Corporation), and his physician, Norman Jacobson, put together another version of an e-cigarette. Though nothing physically came of it, the term “vape” is widely credited to these two.

Throughout the 1990’s, patents were filed, prototypes made, and a tobacco company even approached the FDA about taking an e-cigarette to market. They were denied. And so, the 1990’s came and went without an e-cigarette market.

But come 2003, Hon Lik, a Beijing pharmacist, inventor, and long-time smoker, forgot to take off his nicotine patch before bed and had a dream that changed vaping history. He invented what we know as the e-cigarette of today. From then on, vaping had a pretty fast trajectory.

In 2006, vaping was introduced to the UK where it grew in cultural popularity. In 2007, the e-cigarette made its way to the US.

E-cigarettes have seen an increasing amount of regulation worldwide since about 2009. This also happens to be the year that Obama gave the FDA the power to regulate tobacco when he signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Setting the record straight

To vape. It’s a verb. Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor. The act of vaping applies to both a vape pen and an e-cigarette. However, a vape pen and an e-cigarette are different. The media often uses the term vape pen and e-cigarette interchangeably, but a vape pen, though similar in function, is not the same as an e-cigarette.

Source: CDC

An e-cigarette looks like a cigarette and consists of three parts: a mouthpiece, a cartomizer (this is a combined nicotine cartridge and atomizer), and a battery. Because its designed to resemble a cigarette, it can end up getting weird looks from people when using it in public. Like with anything, there are pros and cons to an e-cigarette.

Let’s list them out.

Pros :

  • Looks and feels like a real cigarette

  • Comes with pre-filled cartridges


  • Looks and feels like a real cigarette

  • Can’t tell when the cartridge is low or empty

  • E-liquid or cartomizer manufacturer has to be the same as the battery’s manufacturer

  • Limited battery life

Now, a vape pen consists of a mouthpiece; a refillable, clear tank; an atomizer; an on/off switch; and a battery. With the refillable tank and interchangeable components, a vaporizer has more customizability.

Here are some pros and cons.


  • Lots of customization options

  • Including diversity in flavors and e-liquid manufacturers

  • Longer-lasting, rechargeable battery

  • Refillable, clear cartridge


  • More expensive to get started