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The Invention That Made E-Cigarettes Successful

One of the biggest differences between vaping and other nicotine replacement products such as patches or gum is the passion and appeal they have, which causes people to opt to head to a vape shop instead of buying a packet of cigarettes.

This appeal is a large part of why they have become an effective way to help smokers quit the habit for good, and so one would easily assume that the first modern vaping tool, invented and patented by Dr Hon Lik, would be an immediate success.

Dr Lik himself believed it would be as well, taking over from cigarettes in the same way the digital camera ended the need for analogue film. It wasn’t, but why did it take so long for vaping to become the success that it is today?


The Early Days Of The E-Cigarette

Patents had been filed for vaping devices as early as 1927, and patents for smokeless cigarettes as early as 1963, but the problems these early inventors ran into were similar to the ones Dr Lik ran into in 2004 when he launched the Ruyan electronic cigarette.

Whilst it very quickly developed a small but devoted user base in China, Dr Lik struggled to get the widespread acceptance and distribution that vape devices enjoy today.

According to Dr Lik himself, the pharmaceutical groups were not convinced by its efficacy, health authorities such as the World Health Organisation lacked the proof they have now that they work, and the tobacco industry did not see a potential growth market but instead an existential threat.

As well as this, Dr Lik’s early devices were what would now be considered “cigalikes” and whilst the core design of the Ruyan is similar to modern vapes, it had a few changes that fundamentally affected how they were treated by smokers.

The heating element Dr Lik used was a high-frequency ultrasound that vaporised the pressurised liquid, as opposed to the simpler battery-powered heating elements used in modern devices.

It also did not use a manual heating switch, instead opting for an automatic set of triggers that activated when a user took a drag that would not always work as quickly or as effectively as they might have liked.

As well as this, some users found issues with the three-part design, with a separate liquid chamber and heating coil that led to users struggling when trying to refill their device.

It would not take long for innovative inventors to find a solution.


Putting It All Together

There were two developments that helped turn vaping from a perceived fad to a transformative multi-partite phenomenon.

The first was the “cartomiser”, a liquid chamber with a heating coil built into it, which was not only easier to use but allowed for early pre-filled vapes to be created, which eventually lead to the rise of the disposable vape bars that are widely popular today.

The other was the “Screwdriver”, the first ever custom-made vape device that inspired the modding culture and made vaping popular beyond the cigalikes, and helped its potential for inspiring people to stop smoking.