E-cigarette History

A Historical Timeline of Electronic Cigarettes

2003: The electronic cigarette is first developed in Beijing, China by Hon Lik, a 52 year old pharmacist, inventor and smoker. He reportedly invents the device after his father, also a heavy smoker, dies of lung cancer. The company Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, developed the device and changed their name to Ruyan, which means "like smoke."

April 2006: Electronic cigarettes introduced to Europe.

2006-2007: Electronic cigarettes introduced to the U.S.

March 2008: Turkey’s Health Ministry bans the sale and importation of e-cigarettes. Health Ministry Drugs and Pharmacy Director, Mahmut Tokaç, claims electronic cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes. The vice president of the Foundation Combating Smoking in Turkey, Kıyas Güngör, claims that "nicotine is the most dangerous element among 4,800 poisonous chemicals in cigarettes."

September 2008: The World Health Organization (WHO) proclaims that it does not consider the electronic cigarette to be a legitimate smoking cessation aid and demands that marketers immediately remove from their materials any suggestions that the WHO considers electronic cigarettes safe and effective.

October 2008: In a study funded by Ruyan, Health New Zealand conducts a detailed quantitative analysis and concludes that carcinogens and toxicants are present only below harmful levels. On the basis of the findings, the e-cigarette is rated several orders of magnitude (100 to 1000 times) less dangerous than smoking tobacco cigarettes. The nicotine dose is comparable to that of a medicinal nicotine inhaler. Overall, the product tested was deemed a "safe alternative to smoking." http://www.healthnz.co.nz/ecigarette.htm

January 2009: Australia bans the possession and sale of electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine, citing that "every form of nicotine except for replacement therapies and cigarettes are classified as a form of poison."

January 2009: Jordan’s Ministry of Health bans the import of the electronic cigarettes, citing World Health Organization’s health concerns. In a February 2012 review of the ban, Malek Habashneh, director of the ministry’s awareness and communication directorate, claims that "e-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals that cause more health problems than the nicotine in normal cigarettes."

March 2009: FDA adds electronic cigarettes to Import Alert 66-41 and directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reject the entry of electronic cigarettes into the United States.

March 2009: Canada bans the sale, advertising and import of electronic cigarettes. Health Canada advises Canadians not to purchase or use them, claiming they contain a "known irritant" (propylene glycol.)

March 2009: Hong Kong Department of Health bans electronic cigarettes. The maximum penalty for possessing or selling e-cigarettes is a HK$100,000 fine and two years' imprisonment. Since smoke-free tobacco is prohibited in Hong Kong, the ban on e-cigarettes continues to leave high-risk cigarettes as the only legal tobacco product available.

March 2009: FDA notifies electronic cigarette company "Smoking Everywhere" that its shipments have been refused entry into the U.S. The FDA maintains that electronic cigarettes "appears to be a combination drug-device product" that requires preapproval, registration and listing with the FDA.

May 2009: Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) files a petition to the FDA, calling for FDA regulation of electronic cigarettes.

April 2009: Smoking Everywhere files a federal complaint seeking an injunction against the FDA with respect to the FDA's attempts to ban the import of Electronic Cigarettes. Smoking Everywhere contends that the FDA has no authority over electronic cigarettes, as they are a "tobacco product" and the FDA's attempt to regulate them infringes on Congress's intent to withhold FDA jurisdiction over tobacco products. They contend that electronic cigarettes are not "drugs," "drug delivery systems," or "drug device combinations" under 21 U.S.C 321(g). 

May 2009: NJOY (Sottera) joins Smoking Everywhere lawsuit against FDA.

May 2009: The Electronic Cigarette Association (ECA) is formed. The ECA (now defunct) is a trade association made up of electronic cigarette producers, distributors and retailers; whose aim is to speak on behalf of the electronic cigarette industry, especially in response to health concerns, and to help institute industry standards. The group is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its president and spokesman is former United States congressman Matt Salmon.

May 2009: FDA tests 2 brands of electronic cigarettes, NJOY & Smoking Everywhere. 18 cartridges are tested. Tests reveal trace amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in the liquid in levels comparable to those found in FDA-approved nicotine cessation products. The liquid of one cartridge is found to contain a non-toxic amount (approximately 1%) diethylene glycol. TSNAs nor diethylene glycol is detected in the vapor. Some cartridges labeled as 0mg nicotine are shown to contain trace amounts of nicotine. 

June 2009: President Obama signs into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act 18, giving the FDA the power to regulate the tobacco industry. Although nicotine and cigarettes as a whole cannot be banned outright, flavoring such as fruit or mint can. Additionally, new tobacco products seeking to enter the market will be required to meet FDA pre-market standards, which could affect electronic cigarette regulation.

June 2009: Panama bans the importation, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes.

July 2009: FDA files a supplemental brief in the Smoking Everywhere lawsuit referencing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The FDA contends that it still has authority over electronic cigarettes and FDA stand behind the decision to label it a drug-device combination. "FDA found, after examining the product, the claims made in the product labeling, and information SE submitted to FDA, that SE's product met the definition of both a drug and device under the FDCA." http://www.fda.gov/

July 2009: Two months after testing, the FDA issues a press release discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes and repeating previously stated concerns that electronic cigarettes may be marketed to young people, lack appropriate health warnings and that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze. The FDA did not reveal that the carcinogens found were similar to those found at the same levels in FDA-approved nicotine cessation products, nor that the amount of diethylene glycol found would not be toxic. The FDA also did not disclose that neither substance was found in the actual vapor to which the user is exposed.

July 2009: FDA's May 2009 study is reviewed by scientific consulting firm Exponent, Inc., in a report commissioned by NJOY. Some of the criticisms of the FDA study, as set forth in Exponent's report, are poor standards of documentation and analysis and failure to perform relevant comparisons to FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products, which Exponent claims contain TSNA levels comparable to those of electronic cigarettes. The study concludes that the FDA's claims of potential adverse health effects were not supported by the study. http://www.njoythefreedom.com/

July 2009: Israeli Health Ministry bans e-cigarette sales and importation.

August 2009: In a Washington Times op-ed, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, calls the FDA press statement about electronic cigarettes "distorted, incomplete and misleading" and meant to "scare Americans" to stay "away from these newfangled, untested cigarette substitutes -- better to stick with the real ones." http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/06/fda-smoke-screen-on-e-cigarettes/

August 2009: The State of Oregon files two settlements that prevent two national travel store chains, Pilot Travel Centers and TA Operating, from selling NJOY electronic cigarettes. In addition, the company must give the Attorney General advance notice that they intend to sell electronic cigarettes in Oregon, provide copies of all electronic cigarette advertising, and provide copies of the scientific studies they maintain substantiates their claims. NJOY voluntarily stops all sales in Oregon. http://www.doj.state.or.us/releases/2009/rel073009.shtml

August 2009: Oregon Attorney General John Kroger files a lawsuit against Smoking Everywhere, alleging that the Florida-based "electronic cigarette" company made false health claims about its nicotine delivery device and targeted children with sweet flavors. Smoking everywhere refuses to settle.

August 2009: Brazil bans the sale, importation and advertisement of electronic cigarettes.

August 2009: Suffolk County, NY passes first legislation banning indoor use of electronic cigarette in areas where smoking is also prohibited and bans sales to minors.

August 2009: Saudi Arabia bans sales of electronic cigarettes based on the statement made by the US Food and Drug Administration which had said [e-cigarettes] "contain harmful carcinogenic and toxic substances, notably diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze."

September 2009: California passes a bill to ban the sales of electronic cigarettes in the state. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoes the bill stating, "If adults want to purchase and consume these products with an understanding of the associated health risks, they should be able to do so unless and until federal law changes the legal status of these tobacco products."

October 2009: Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) forms and board members elected. The organization is made up of both consumers and retailers, with the mission to ensure the availability of effective, affordable and reduced harm alternatives to smoking by increasing public awareness and education; to encourage the testing and development of products to achieve acceptable safety standards and reasonable regulation; and to promote the benefits of reduced harm alternatives. In order to ensure CASAA is first and foremost a consumer-based organization, the number of vendors elected to the board is limited so that consumer board members control a super majority.

October 2009: UK ASH recognizes that products should be made available that deliver nicotine in a safe way, without the harmful components found in tobacco, but those attempting to quit should use conventional NRTs. http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf

October 2009: Amazon.com prohibits sale of electronic tobacco products on its website.

October 2009: PayPal freezes accounts of electronic cigarette vendors in the U.S. and prohibits them from using the service; however, vendors outside of the U.S. are allowed to continue using PayPal for electronic cigarette sales.

December 2009: New Jersey State legislators pass a bill including electronic cigarettes in the state's public smoking ban.

December 2009: NJOY announces it is discontinuing, in the U.S., the availability of all flavors except its traditional tobacco flavor and menthol. The move aligns the flavors offered by NJOY with those allowed for combustible tobacco cigarettes under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

January 2010: Judge Leon grants the injunction sought by Smoking Everywhere/Sottera prohibiting the FDA from seizing e-cigarettes as drug or drug/device combinations.

March 2010: Appeallate Court grants the FDA's request for a stay of Judge Leon's injunction pending appeal. 

March 2010: The American Association of Public Health Physicians submits two Citizen Petitions to the FDA, one asking for reclassification of e-cigarettes to 'tobacco product' and the other asking for a follow up statement to the July 2009 press conference.

March 2010: First VapefestTM is held in Richmond, VA

March 2010: Ministry of Public Health bans the import and sale of electronic cigarettes in Thailand. It warns "the cigarettes contained more nicotine than normal ones."

April 2010: Washington Legal Foundation files intent to participate as amicus curiae in opposition to the FDA

April 2010: The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association (AHA), American Lung Association (ALA), American Legacy Foundation, American Medical Association (AMA), Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Public Citizen file a motion requesting to participate as amicus curiae in support of the FDA.

April 2010: CASAA assists the Midwest Vapers Group in persuading Illinois legislators not to pass SB3174, a law which would prevent convenience stores, tobacco shops and mall kiosks from selling e-cigarettes.

June 2010: American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates (HOD) passes a policy urging the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes as drug delivery devices.

July 2010: Singapore bans e-cigarette importation, distribution and sales. Fine is of up to $5,000 upon conviction.

July 2010: Marine Corps Base in Quantico bans e-cigarette use in its facilities. 

August 2010: CASAA joins other e-cigarette and reduced-harm smokeless alternative proponents in filing an amicus brief in the Sottera vs. FDA case. Other amicus curiae named on the brief include Smokefree Pennsylvania, The American Council on Science and Health, National Vapers Club, Midwest Vapers Group, Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, and Joel Nitzkin, MD, MPH, DPA.

August 2010: Oregon’s Attorney General John Kroger reaches a settlement preventing the two national travel store chains from selling e-cigarettes.

August 2010: Air Force surgeon general’s office last week categorizes e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” and prohibits their use in most Air Force facilities. 

September 2010: Oral arguments before the U.S Court of Appeals in SE vs. FDA

October 2010: First VapeFestTM is held in UK

December 2010: U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington rules the FDA can only regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, unless therapeutic claims are made. 

February 2011: Study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reporting that electronic cigarettes are a promising tool to help smokers quit, producing six-month abstinence rates that are better than those for traditional nicotine replacement products. 

February 2011: The U.S. Department of Transportation says the use of smokeless electronic cigarettes on airplanes is prohibited and announces its intention to issue an official ban.

April 2011: FDA announces it will regulate e-cigarettes as it currently regulates traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products under the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act. However, any e-cigarette products advertising claims of helping the user to stop smoking or providing any other health benefit will be more strictly regulated as a drug or medical device.

April 2011: Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) is formed. TVECA is "an association of private sector companies engaged in electronic cigarette technologies." http://tveca.com/membership.php

May 2011: Argentina passes resolution 3226/2011 banning the importation, distribution, commercialization and advertising of e-cigarettes and paraphernalia related to them.

June 2011: Venezuelan government bans use and marketing of electronic cigarettes.

June 2011: First VapestockTM held in Clearwater Beach, FL.

August 2011: Study published in the journal "Addiction" provides strong evidence that electronic cigarettes are being used with success by many smokers to quit smoking or cut down substantially on the number of cigarettes they consume, and that e-cigarettes are being used with success by many ex-smokers to remain off cigarettes. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03505.x/abstract

September 2011: The Obama administration proposes banning the use of electronic cigarettes on airline flights, saying the "new rule would enhance passenger comfort and reduce any confusion." The Department of Transportation says that although it considers electronic cigarettes to be covered under the existing law banning smoking on airplanes, it intends to adopt a rule specifically banning them in the summer of 2012.

October 2011: The British Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) strongly endorses tobacco harm reduction in its first annual report. E-cigarettes are cited as potentially effective substitutes because of their behavioral attributes. http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Behaviour-Change-Insight-Team-Annual-Update.pdf

October 2011: First VaperConTM is held in Richmond, VA

October 2011: The results of the first clinical trial of electronic cigarettes, reported in the journal BMC Public Health, suggests e-cigarettes may be more effective than traditional NRT products for smoking cessation and may be particularly effective in smokers who are not motivated to quit. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/11/786

November 2011: CASAA calls for members to urge the Alameda, CA City Council to remove e-cigarette use from a proposed smoking ordinance and arranges for locals to make public comments at the Council’s first reading. The ordinance passes with e-cigarettes successfully excluded.

December 2011: Holland's Minister of Health, announces that the sale and import of electronic cigarettes is banned. E-cigarette sales will require a pharmaceutical license.

December 2011: The health minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia announces that the state government has determined that e-cigarettes and their cartridges fall under regulations concerning medicines and medical products. She states that the state government is planning to adopt regulations to ban their sale unless approved for sale in pharmacies.

February 2012: CASAA successfully organizes local opposition to the Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee's proposed 70% electronic cigarette tax in SB2233. The bill passes the ban on e-cigarettes sales to minors without the 70% sales tax.

March 2012: First VapeBashTM is held in Chicago, IL.

March 2012: United Tobacco Vapor Group Inc., a branch of the TVECA, wins a lawsuit challenging the Dutch Ministry of Health's ban on e-cigarette sales.

March 2012: The Higher Administrative Court for North Rhine-Westphalia, in Germany, instructs the state to remove bans and warnings about e-cigarettes. Court issues opinion that electronic cigarettes are tobacco products and not drugs.

March 2012: Consumer groups including CASAA, ECCA UK, Stelda NL (Netherlands), IGED (Germany) and ATACA (Australia) organize the first World Vaping Day, which takes place on March 22nd. http://www.world-vaping-day.com

March 2012: Nearly 200 of Germany's estimated 1.2 million electronic cigarette users march peacefully in Düsseldorf in protest of "lies, missinformation [sic], raids at [e-cigarette] liquid stores by the police and a witch hunt against German vapers." http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4C0T2v0C4R8

April 2012: Venezuela’s government threatens to punish with fines up to $8,400 for those who distribute or promote electronic cigarettes banned in the country for not having permits or corresponding health records.