While change has always been constant since the genesis of humanity, the velocity of this advancement has been in full display in the 21st century. From Laser Discs to Blu-ray Discs, we now have on-demand content with superb quality available through mobile devices that evolve on a yearly basis, self-driving cars, and electronic versions of cigarettes that may replace their traditional and more harmful “forefather” in the near future.
Indeed, the evolution of technology and its impact on society on a large scale is quite a sight to behold. But even more fascinating is the journey of each gadget or device from its ideation to its continued and improved use—especially when this journey is one that has undergone many trials, but plenty more triumphs.
The e-cigarette for example, is one such product that has had a storied past. Invented by a 51-year-old pharmacist and resident of Beijing, Hon Lik is known as the father of the modern e-cigarette as we know of it today. He was motivated by his father who was a heavy smoker and who struggled to quit smoking until he eventually died of lung cancer. Despite being developed with good intent—the first commercially successful electronic cigarette was created with the sole intention to help smokers quit —the e-cigarette industry underwent plenty of tribulations that resulted in mixed sentiments and draconian regulations worldwide.
This was mostly due to a lack of understanding of the novel invention and the unfounded speculation that the product was more harmful than traditional cigarettes. Such claims have over time been consistently rejected by an increasing number of public health authorities and independent studies worldwide that have acknowledged that e-cigarettes are not only less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but also the most effective tool a smoker could use to quit smoking.
With increasing international acceptance of e-cigarettes, the industry has continued to innovate and provide even more options for vapers and smokers through cutting edge R&D and product design.
The evolution of e-cigarette technology
To date, there have been 4 generations of e-cigarettes, each bringing with it a new wave of innovation.
The first e-cigarette was a groundbreaking device that resembled traditional cigarettes. In retrospect, this similarity in design may have been brought about precisely by the intended purpose. That is, to keep the e-cigarette as similar as possible to cigarettes so that smokers can make the switch more easily with a familiar-looking device. It was a simple device that consisted of a battery, atomizer, and flavor cartridge, and was easily disposable.
The second generation of e-cigarettes paved the way for the version of e-cigarettes that we know of today. It is widely known as a “pen vape” and it allowed users to recharge and refill their devices—thus prolonging its use and reducing its carbon footprint. Second generation e-cigarettes incorporated upgraded technology and a much longer battery life.
Third generation e-cigarettes took innovation even further, allowing users to customize their devices, enabling them to adjust the temperature, voltage, and even its wattage, thus providing excellent and customized performance.
Finally, the fourth and latest generation of e-cigarettes showcases its continuing high-class innovation and the latest in vaping technology. Known as the closed-system e-cigarette, this generation of e-cigarettes brings convenience and reliability to the modern consumer. Besides enhancing the well-loved features of previous generations, these e-cigarettes now have added technology which allows for automation and digital integration—creating a seamless and ultra-reliable user experience.
The evolution of the e-cigarette culture
With these innovations, e-cigarette users, researchers, and advocates also pressed on despite heavy scrutiny, to highlight the contribution of e-cigarettes to a society’s tobacco harm reduction agenda.
More than ensuring that Filipino adults 21 years or older have alternatives to regular cigarettes, the e-cigarette industry has also helped in job creation in the Philippines, contributed to nation-building by ensuring proper taxation of e-cigarettes, while advocating against underage e-cigarette use.
Alongside the development of technological innovations for e-cigarettes, manufacturers themselves have been coming up with similar programs and have also been utilizing and upgrading its technology to further drive the responsible use of their products. Recent innovation efforts by reputable e-cigarette companies have also included face-scanning technology and vending machines with age-verification capabilities, as well as compatible apps that can power on and off the e-cigarette so that unsupervised children cannot access it.
As more people around the world embrace e-cigarettes for the purpose it was intended for – to quit smoking, authorities around the world have similarly embraced the science behind it and enacted legislation to regulate the proper and responsible use of the product. Countries such as the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, and many other public health authorities have acknowledged the benefits of e-cigarettes as part of national smoke-free campaigns, while e-cigarette manufacturers have continuously improved the product to ensure that smokers can access a product backed by science and the law.
With more studies and testimonials on its benefits seeing the light of day, not to mention the many groups and manufacturers who prioritize health safety and responsible use, e-cigarettes have the immense potential of transiting societies to become smoke-free.