Evolution of e-cigarettes: A timeline of the rise of vaping devices and subsequent ban in multiple countries

  • Nirmala Sitharam addressed a press conference today in Delhi to announce that the Cabinet has approved the decision to ban e-cigarettes

  • Following the announcement, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are now banned

  • A draft ordinance that the Health Ministry had proposed suggests a jail term of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh against first-time violators

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam addressed a press conference Wednesday in Delhi to announce that the Cabinet has approved the decision to ban e-cigarettes also known as electronic nicotine delivery system or ENDS. E-cigarettes are battery-operated hand-held devices that resemble cigarettes but do not burn tobacco. They contain an aerosol solution that contains nicotine extracted from tobacco used in conventional cigarettes. A heating coil in the e-cigarette turns this liquid into vapour, which is then inhaled.

 Evolution of e-cigarettes: A timeline of the rise of vaping devices and subsequent ban in multiple countries

Representational image. AFP

Following the announcement, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are now banned. The usage of e-cigarettes, however, is not banned. A draft ordinance that the Health Ministry had proposed suggests a jail term of up to one year along with a penalty of Rs 1 lakh against first-time violators. This can go up to imprisonment of three years or a fine up to Rs 5 lakhs for subsequent violations, reported NDTV.

History of e-cigarettes
According to vapingdaily.com, the idea of an e-cigarette was first flouted by a person named Joseph Robinson in 1927.

However, Herbert A Gilbert is designated as the creator of what can be referred to as the e-cigarette today. He created a prototype of the device in 1963 but failed to commercialise it. He also patented the device in 1965.

Then in 1979, another person, Phil Ray, and his personal physician Norman Jacobson created the first variation of commercialised e-cigarette. But the device never had a promising technology for nicotine delivery. While the device proved to be faulty, the inventors coined the new term 'vape'.

In the 1990s a chemical-reaction based system was invented, which is still in the use. The functioning of the “heat-not-burn” device falls somewhere in between that of a pure nicotine inhaler and a combusted cigarette. It was during this time that a major US tobacco company requested permission from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to introduce a version of an e-cigarette in the market, but FDA denied the request.

Evolution and journey of e-cigarettes

In 2003, the first commercially successful e-cigarette was created by Hon Lik in China’s Beijing. Later, the company Lik worked for, developed the device and named it Ruyan, which means “like smoke". In 2006 e-cigarettes were introduced in Europe. Then in 2006-2007, it was introduced to the Americans.

After that, in 2008 Turkey’s health ministry suspended the sale of e-cigarettes. In September of the same year, a written claim from The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that it does not consider the e-cigarette to be a legitimate smoking cessation aid and demanded that marketers immediately remove any suggestions that the WHO considers electronic cigarettes safe and effective.

In 2009, Australia banned the possession and sale of e-cigarettes which had nicotine in it, followed by Jordan which banned the import of the device. Other countries that banned the device were Canada (banned the sale, advertising, import of e-cigarettes), Hong Kong (for possessing, selling e-cigarettes) and Panama (banned the importation, distribution and sale of e-cigarettes).

During this time, the then US President Barak Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which banned any flavouring of nicotine and cigarettes. New tobacco products hoping to enter the market now needed to meet the FDA pre-market standards. Later that year, California passed a bill and banned the sale of e-cigarettes in the state.

In 2010, a House of Delegates (HOD) in the American Medical Association (AMA) passed a policy urging the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices. In this same year, Singapore also banned the import, distribution, and sales of such devices.

It was also this year that a ‘Vapefest’ was held in Richmond, which ultimately led to the expansion of the market, and in 2014, the term ‘vape’ was officially incorporated in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Then in August 2015, the Public Health England announced that it had made an independent review and the concluding result was that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

Recently, on 17 September 2019, New York became the second US state to ban flavoured e-cigarettes, following several vaping-linked deaths that have raised fears about a product long promoted as less harmful than smoking.

Thus, with lots of countries banning it, and many more debating its pros and cons, e-cigarette made it to 2019, carrying with its history and controversy along.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 19, 2019 22:44:51 IST