Vaping is growing in popularity by the day. The habit has taken off in recent years, and the number of cigarette smokers has gone down. In England, around 6% of the population vape, which is around 2.7 million people according to a study by Public Health England. Despite vaping becoming mainstream over the last 10 years, it has a long history that dates all the way back to the early 20th century! Read on to find out about the interesting, long history behind vaping… 


In 1927, Joseph Robinson created the first design of an ‘electric vaporizer’ which he described as “hot medicated vapours for inhalation”, so he aimed to use an e-cig to vaporise medicines.  His idea was approved by the FDA, however, a prototype was never created and it never entered the market. 


Herbert A. Gilbert designed his own version of the e-cigarette, taking inspiration from Joseph Robinson’s initial design. He designed it with the idea in mind that the device would be used as an alternative to smoking. The scientist created the model using a battery and heat source. It was the first successful attempt of creating an e-cig. 

However, the idea didn’t take off. Tobacco companies turned down his idea, as many business owners saw it as a threat to their industry. Smoking was still hugely popular in the 60s, and the harm of smoking cigarettes was only just coming to light, and smoking advertisements were still legal. The British government banned cigarette TV ads in 1965. 

It is interesting to look at the design, as the vapes of today are based on Gilbert’s prototype. 


Over a decade later from Gilbert’s designs, Phil Ray and Normal Jacobson decide to try and put vapes on the market. The pair produced a device that contained nicotine and visually made it resemble a cigarette. Once again, the idea didn’t take off but the idea was now being looked into by a new audience. 

Find high-quality vaping equipment and e-liquids on the Juicemate website now!


A pharmacist from China named Hon Lik decided to try and revamp the idea of an e-cigarette. His inspiration came from his father’s passing from lung cancer. He is now considered the ‘father of modern vapes’. 

Hon Lik looked at different liquids that would replicate the satisfying feeling of smoking tobacco. He implemented propylene glycol (PG) with vegetable glycerine (VG) which are still two of the most important ingredients in e-liquids today. 

The pharmacist also started to use lithium batteries in e-cigs, so that they could last for many hours. 

The e-cigarette took off in China in 2004, and it gained popularity and spread to Europe and the USA in 2006 and 2007. 

2006 – 2007

E-cigarettes grew in popularity in Asian countries and started making their way over to Europe and the USA. Vaping had a steady start in non-Asian countries, as many governments and border control banned them because of their lack of knowledge of the safety of the devices.

During this period of time, WHO passed a law to ban e-cigarette labels from calling the habit harmless. 


It wouldn’t be known until many years later, but 2009 was the year that the world’s most successful and best-selling e-liquid brand, Hangsen, was launched. Today they still have the widest range of flavours available and ship more units than any other vape juice brand in the world.


Public Health England published their first study about the health effects of vaping. In the study, they stated that vaping is significantly less (at least 95%) harmful than smoking.


The UK government laid out strict regulations under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations, which vape companies have to follow for their products to be approved and dispatched. These regulations are: 

  • E-cigarette tanks can not exceed 2 ml
  • E-liquids cannot contain more than 20 mg/ml of nicotine 
  • Ingredients such as colouring, caffeine and taurine are banned

Read our blog post about the top e-liquid brands in the UK, that pass the regulations and taste amazing! 

2021 – 2022

Whilst disposable vapes have been on the market for a few years, the sales began to rise in 2021 and have continued to grow at a rapid rate in 2022. The devices are cheap, easy to use and appealing to young people. A new study states less than 1% of 18-year-olds used disposable vapes (e.g. Elf Bars and Geek Bars) at the start of 2021, which has now risen to around 57% in January 2022! This is huge growth, and experts have put it down to social media exposure.

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