The Science Behind Vaping

When Was Vaping Invented?

Early History

The history of vaping can be dated right back to the 1930’s when the first documented reference to an e-cigarette was made. However, this was not commercialised and there is no evidence to show that it was ever actually manufactured. It is generally thought that, in the 1960s, Herbert A Gilbert created the first device to resemble an e-cigarette. But again, this was not commercialised. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the first commercialisation of an e-cigarette device came about. Interestingly, it was not actually electronic and instead it relied on the natural evaporation of nicotine. It was not very successful - it did reach retailers, but it turned out to be a fairly faulty technology. By the 1990s, many nicotine inhaling devices were brought about by tobacco companies and individual inventors. Much like the previously mentioned device, most of them relied on evaporation or physical propulsion rather than electricity. However, there were a few that were fairly similar to modern e-cigarettes. It is believed that these were not brought to the commercial market due to being an unapproved drug delivery device.

Recent History

In 2003, the first commercially successful e-cigarette was created in Beijing, China, by a man named Hon Lik. It is though he made it due to the fact that his father, a heavy cigarette smoker, had previously died from lung cancer. Between 2006 and 2007, the device was introduced to Europe, then the United States. In the following years, many countries and organisations began to ban e-cigarettes and e-liquids from being used or sold, or they would strongly discourage the usage of them. There was lots of speculation and uncertainty surrounding the safety and regulation of e-cigarettes. Over time, more and more countries started to ban them. 
In 2011, studies began to show that e-cigarettes may actually be promising tools in helping people to quit smoking. The FDA announced that it would start to regulate e-cigarettes in the same way that it did traditional cigarettes, which was essentially a step forward. The first clinical trial into e-cigarettes took place, and suggested that they may have been more effective in helping people to quit smoking than other methods - especially for those who were less motivated to quit. Things slowly started to change, and organisations began to understand the potential benefits of vaping. However, there were still some concerns and some countries continued to employ a ban.
Nowadays, it is widely known that vaping can provide an excellent and safe solution for those looking to quit smoking. Far fewer people are smoking in 2020, and it could be largely down to this. 

How Do E-Liquids Work? 

E-liquids are usually made from a maximum of four ingredients: vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), flavourings, and nicotine. The ratio of VG to PG can vary between e-liquids, flavourings can be made up of different substances, and not all e-liquids contain nicotine. 
Glycerin is a natural substance that can be processed from most kinds of fat. The type used in e-liquids comes from vegetable oils (hence the name vegetable glycerin). However, it is actually an alcohol rather than an oil, meaning it is completely safe to inhale. It is a non-toxic, colourless, odourless, and viscous liquid. It has a sweet taste, meaning it is often used in the food industry as a sweetener. It is also used to keep some foods moist, and scientists have used it for years. E-liquids with higher amounts of vegetable glycerin will produce a more dense vapour, but have less of a throat hit. 
Propylene glycol is also an alcohol. It is almost odourless, and has a very faint sweet taste. It is also used in the food industry to keep foods moist, as well as medicines and other products. E-liquids with a higher amount of PG will produce less vapour, but carry the flavourings better and provide more of a throat hit. 
The flavourings in e-liquids can be both natural and artificial. Artificial flavourings can be made from a number of different chemicals which provide unique properties and flavours. Some natural flavourings can be made from plant or fruit terpenes which are the oils that provide plants and fruits with their unique aromas and flavours. These are combined to create flavour pairings that are safe to inhale. Flavourings have the most potential to make an e-liquid unsafe, unlike the other e-liquid ingredients. It is important that you stick to e-liquids made by reputable manufacturers, as these have been verified for quality and safety. 
Most e-liquids contain nicotine, but not all of them. In the UK, e-liquids in bottles larger than 10ml are no longer allowed to contain nicotine due to fairly new laws, however ‘nicotine shots’ can be added to these. Nicotine is what makes vaping an effective substitute for smoking, as this is the addictive compound in tobacco. It is actually a very safe drug - it is the smoke and chemicals from cigarettes that causes harm, not the nicotine. 
E-cigarettes work by heating the e-liquid and converting it into a mist or vapour which is then inhaled. There is no fire, ash, or smoke unlike with traditional cigarettes, meaning it is much safer. 

The Science Behind Nicotine Addiction

Similar to other addictions, nicotine is addictive because of the way that it interacts with the brain and induces feelings of pleasure and desire. Nicotine attaches to the core neurons of the brain's reward system, and these neurons flood the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is the source of pleasure, and the desire to repeat behaviours which lead to that pleasure. 
Nicotine only stimulates these neurons for a few minutes at most, so why does the satisfaction last so much longer? Nicotine also has an effect on glutamate and GABA in the brain. It causes glutamate to speed up the release of dopamine, and it prevents GABA from slowing it down. This means that there is a high release of dopamine which lasts longer than an hour. 

How Does Vaping Benefit Health?

In the UK, e-cigarettes and e-liquids are tightly regulated for safety and quality, meaning you can feel reassured that you will remain safe when buying from a reputable retailer. They carry a small fraction of the risk of traditional cigarettes, as they do not contain tobacco, carbon monoxide, or any of the other harmful constituents that cigarettes contain. Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians estimate that they are at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes. 
Vaping can help people to stop smoking in a much more effective way than other methods, which can benefit one’s health massively. Smoking cigarettes can lead to serious health complications including lung cancer and heart disease, so it is important that people who are trying to quit are successful. 

What Are The Health Risks?

There is a lack in long term scientific data and evidence into the health risks of vaping due to the fact that it is fairly new. It is important that e-cigarettes are regulated to ensure appropriate use. It is sometimes thought that vaping could potentially have an effect on heart or lung health in the long term, but there is a lack in research that proves this theory.
We aren’t currently aware of any definite health risks associated with vaping, but it is thought that they are unlikely to be completely risk free. The important thing to consider is that using an e-cigarette is much safer and less harmful than smoking, so it can provide an overwhelmingly beneficial use in this regard. You should definitely consider using an e-cigarette to help you stop smoking. However if you don’t already smoke, then you should not take up vaping; it is not going to be more healthy than doing neither of the two. 
If you are looking to start vaping, or if you already do, then ensure you are always buying your e-liquids from a reputable retailer. Go to for TPD compliant, safety and quality assured e-liquids which are manufactured here in the UK.