Who Started Vaping in the US?: Herbert Gilbert and His Quest for the Smokeless Tobacco

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It’s hard to believe that e-cigarettes started as early as the 1960s. But according to sources, the earliest forms of e-cigarettes were created during that decade. It was patented, too, as the first “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette”. The invention, though, did not take off. The patent eventually expired.

The patent was applied for by Herbert A. Gilbert. The application date, as reflected in the patent document, was April 17, 1963. The patent’s publication date was Aug. 17, 1965. An image of the product was attached to the document and it looked just like the current vapes available in the market.

In a letter published on vaporcade.com, Gilbert stated: “Back then, my wish was to have an alternative to the scourge of tobacco cigarettes. With the e-cigarette market starting to explode, more than ever my dream is rekindled.”

Unfortunately, in the 1960s, the dangers of cigarette smoking were not a widespread belief. Regulations were also scant. In fact, during that time, anyone can smoke anywhere: offices, restaurants, bars, and even hospitals. Over the years, though, the dangers of smoking have seeped into the consciousness of people that government took action. Cigarettes have since been regulated. People are no longer allowed to smoke wherever they want. There are designated smoking areas—depending on the state. But the consensus is that smoking is banned indoors. This is because the smoke from the cigarettes can be inhaled by other people—known as second-hand smoking—and is considered even more dangerous than first hand smoking.

When Gilbert invented his smokeless non-tobacco cigarette, it wasn’t considered a necessity. People weren’t looking for a healthier alternative to smoking. But time has changed and over the years, the demand for a smoking alternative has increased. In 2003, a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik invented the modern day e-cigarette. Lik was a smoker who made a decision to quit by finding an alternative to smoking. He came out with a product that vaporizes nicotine through a fragrant liquid. Lik introduced the e-cigarette to the Chinese market in 2004. The product eventually reached US soil in 2006.

Gilbert allied himself with Human Health Organization to create e-cigarettes. The partnership yielded a product called 1963, called as such in honor of the year the first e-cigarette was invented. “I was excited to be able to fully realize my vision to help smokers who were forced to stick with tobacco cigarettes,” Gilbert said in his letter announcing his partnership with the organization.

In 2007, Nicmaxx joined the vaping market. It claims to have the trust of 9 out of 10 vapers in the country. It guarantees the same enjoyment as smoking but without the known risks. The essence of electronic cigarettes is that it reduces the harmful risks that are attached to smoking cigarettes. E-cigarettes use liquid nicotine instead of tobacco-based cigarettes.

Gilbert envisioned burning tobacco to be replaced with heated, moist, flavored air. While the product has had changes between his invention in 1963 and the current e-cigarettes in the market, Gilbert said the science is basically the same.

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