Vaping is the process of inhaling solution that has been vaporized by an electronic cigarette (“E-Cig”), “vape pen”, or “vape mod”. The solution is typically composed of vegetable glycerine, polyethylene glycol, flavoring, and nicotine[1]. There are also solutions that are advertised as nicotine free.[2]Vaping's largest market is the United States.[3] In 2015, the vape industry was projected to reach $3.5 billion dollars in value.[4]By 2015, worldwide vape sales reached $6 billion dollars.[5].

Vaping is different from traditional smoking and hookah smoking (water pipes). Traditional smoking involves combustion of plant material to create smoke which is then inhaled into a smoker's mouth and lungs. Hookah or water pipes combust plant material to produce smoke like traditional cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, but before the smoke is inhaled into a smoker's mouth and lungs it is passed through water in order to cool the smoke down. Vaping does not involve combustion of plant material to make smoke, instead a heating element vaporizes a solution into a vapor cloud. This vapor cloud is then inhaled into a vaper's mouth and lungs.


In 1963 Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patient for an electronic device intended to replace smoking, as described in the patient application[6]:

The present invention relates to a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette and has for an object to provide a safe and harmless means for and method of smoking by replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air; or by inhaling warm medication into the lungs in case of a respiratory ailment under direction of a physician.

Hebert A. Gilbert

The device was smokeless, like vaping devices today because it did not result from the combustion of plant material and used flavored water as the vaporized liquid. In 2009, a separate patient was filed by a Chinese inventor and pharmacist named Hon Lik[7], who was personally motivated to quit smoking after his father died from using cigarettes. [8].

At age 80, Herbert Gilbert gave an interview with Ashtray Blog, and contended that today's electronic cigarettes are not fundamentally different from his original patent[9]. Herbert Gilbert is one of the founders and serves on the Patent Development Team for the Human Health Organization, a company invested in several different vaping technologies and products.[10] A letter from Herbert Gilbert can be read on the Vaporcade website, a company owned by the Human Health Organization where he expresses that he hopes that peoples' lives can be saved through electronic cigarettes replacing traditional cigarettes.[11]. Hon Lik sold his patent to Fontem, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, and now works for them in the UK[12].



The FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) currently does not regulate electronic cigarettes unless they are marketed for therapeutic purposes. Currently, the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) regulates

  • cigarettes,
  • cigarette tobacco,
  • roll-your-own tobacco, and
  • smokeless tobacco.

The FDA has proposed a rule that would extend the agency's tobacco authority to cover products like e-cigarettes, but this rule has yet to become final. [13]

State LawsEdit

State-by-state E-cigarette regulation summary

Red states in the map shown have substantial legislation in place, meaning vaping is banned along with smoking in most public places. California, Utah, New York and Hawaii ban vaporizors where traditional smoking is prohibited including bars, restaurants, offices, parks and beaches. In New Mexico and Minnesota, there are heavy taxes in place on vaping products. MInnesota doesn’t currently ban vaping in all public areas, but does have bans in place for hospitals, government buildings, and all college campuses, and it also requires child-resistant packaging for all e liquids sold as well as taxing vaping products as tobacco products. Yellow states have moderate legislation. These states ban the sale of vaporizor products to minors and have some cities that ban their use in public areas. Many of these states also have bans in place for college campuses. Green states have very limited legislation. Many of these states have no restrictions whatsoever on the sale or use of vaporizors, and some have only small restrictions such as sale to minors. [14]

Interest GroupsEdit

On the pro-vaping side are groups such as JUUL, Marlboro, and the American Vaping Association (AVA). JUUL is representative of other companies in the vaping industry. Their goals include selling products especially to new markets, and improving the social stigma of vaping. To help the vaping industry, the American Vaping Association is "dedicated to educating the public and government officials about financial and public health benefits offered by vapor products" [15]. Marlboro is representative of other traditional cigarette companies. These companies are interested in switching to the vaping market to stay in business. Since the release of the Surgeon General's report stating that smoking causes cancer, traditional tobacco companies have suffered from reduced sales, banning of cigarette ads on television, and increased taxes on tobacco products. To avoid these setbacks, traditional tobacco companies are looking towards vaping. Marlboro specifically is marketing IQOS, a smokeless cigarette, to target the "many smokers who find the taste of real tobacco so difficult to replace" but want the perceived health benefits of e-cigarettes [16].

On the anti-vaping side are groups such as the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). ASH represents groups that are concerned about the health aspects of vaping despite the claims of others about the health benefits. ASH's goals include ending "the worldwide disease, damage and death caused by tobacco" [17]. The CDC discourages children specifically from vaping because "nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use” [18]. The CDC believes younger people are especially at risk because they are more susceptible to peer pressure and the vaping companies are targeting ads towards younger generations.

These interest groups influence regulations created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and consumers. Stricter regulations on vaping industries and decreased sales indicate the anti-vaping teams are winning, while increased sales and decreased regulations indicate that the pro-vaping teams are winning.

Perceived Advantages and DisadvantagesEdit

The pro-vaping interest groups claim that there are many benefits to switching from traditional smoking to vaping which include economic, social, health, safety, and environmental reasons. The economic incentives are consumers of vaping products can avoid the heavy taxes on traditional tobacco products, on average, an equivalent of a pack of vapes is 55% cheaper than a pack of cigarettes, and people who vape can claim on their health insurance that they do not smoke [19]. The social incentives are that vaping is allowed where traditional smoking is not, there is no foul odor to offend people, and people who vape can date people who will not date smokers [20]. The health benefits include no risk of lung cancer, no ash, and no toxic chemicals, all of which are caused by traditional cigarettes. An estimated 7,600 house fires are caused by improperly extinguished cigarettes each year which is a major safety concern [21]. Vapes, which do not use a flame, eliminate this risk of house fires caused by cigarettes. Environmental benefits of vaping include reduced litter and toxic chemicals in the environment. Many smokers believe that cigarette butts are biodegradable and toss them on the ground. In fact, cigarette butt litter can be ingested by animals who are killed by the toxicity of the chemicals in the cigarettes.

The anti-vaping interest groups have an equally extensive list of disadvantages to vaping. The FDA does not currently regulate the manufacture and production of vaping devices or vaping juice. There have been reports of vaping devices producing formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in large amounts[22]. However, this amount of formaldehyde was reported to have been produced at voltages higher than comfortable for electronic cigarette users.[23]Vaping juice that contains nicotine also carries the same side effects and risk of addiction that traditional cigarettes carry. Because vaping juice that contains nicotine carries the same deleterious effects as traditional smoking, there is a fear that vaping could serve as a gateway to nicotine dependence. In October 2015, the CDC reported that among people who have never smoked, people aged 18-24 were the most likely to try vaping.[24] At least one vape company, Juul has released commercial advertising its vaporizers to a younger target audience as evidenced by the young people shown enjoying and showing off Juul vaporizers.[25]

Generalization and Recommendations for Further ResearchEdit

Vaping is a disruptive technology that is changing the way people interact in society. As a disruptive technology, vaping is forcing various different groups of people to make decisions. Communities and businesses must create rules to govern vaping or reject it completely. Traditional tobacco companies must adapt to the changing market structure to maintain their current position in the marketplace whether through acquisitions of vaping companies, creating their own vaping products, or lobbying for strict vaping laws similar to tobacco laws--or do nothing and lose market share. Kids must make choices about whether or not to try vaping should they be offered the opportunity to do so, and parents must make decisions about whether they should educate their children about vaping, vape around their children, or even vape in public.

Further research could be done to develop a more accurate picture of who is vaping in society, as well as answer other pertientent questions such as: Do parents of children vape? How old is the average vaper? What are the motivations for vaping? Should people be allowed to vape on airplanes? Who decides? Does secondhand vaping expose people to nicotine? Does secondhand vaping infringe on people's rights?


  1. Tate, K. (2013, November 14). Vaping: How E-cigs Work (Infographic). http://www.livescience.com/41211-how-electronic-cigarettes-work-infographic.html
  2. Nicotine Free e-Cigs. (n.d.). http://www.hotvapes.com/nicotine_free.html
  3. Davidson, L. (2015, June 23). Vaping takes off as e-cigarette sales break through $6bn. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11692435/Vaping-takes-off-as-e-cigarette-sales-break-through-6bn.html
  4. Rogers, K. (2015, January 5). More smokers, hoping to quit, turn to vaporizers. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/01/05/more-smokers-hoping-to-quit-turn-to-vaporizers.html#
  5. Davidson, L. (2015, June 23). Vaping takes off as e-cigarette sales break through $6bn. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11692435/Vaping-takes-off-as-e-cigarette-sales-break-through-6bn.html
  6. Herbert A. Gilbert. (1965). US3200819 A. Beaver Falls, PA. United States Patent and Trademark Office. https://www.google.com/patents/US3200819
  7. Lik, H. (2013). US8393331 B2. China. United States Patent and Trademark Office. https://www.google.com/patents/US8393331
  8. Boseley, S. (2015, June 9). Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette to quit smoking – but now he's a dual user. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/09/hon-lik-e-cigarette-inventor-quit-smoking-dual-user
  9. An Interview with the Inventor of the Electronic Cigarette, Herbert A Gilbert. (n.d.). http://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk/ashtray-blog/2013/10/interview-inventor-e-cigarette-herbert-a-gilbert.html#comments
  10. Human Health Organization Mission Statement. (n.d.). https://humanhealth.org/about/
  11. Gilbert, H. (2015). https://vaporcade.com/letter-from-h-a-gilbert/
  12. Boseley, S. (2015, June 9). Hon Lik invented the e-cigarette to quit smoking – but now he's a dual user. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/09/hon-lik-e-cigarette-inventor-quit-smoking-dual-user
  13. Electronic Cigarettes. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/RulesRegulationsGuidance/ucm388395.htm
  14. http://www.v2.com/blog/2015/02/portable-vaporizer-regulations-state/
  15. http://vaping.info/about-us
  16. http://vaperanks.com/phillip-morris-launches-new-type-of-smokeless-cigarette/
  17. http://ash.org/about/
  18. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0416-e-cigarette-use.html
  19. http://www.hiliq.com/blog/tag/vaping-infographic/
  20. http://vaporizer-pen.org/the-pros-and-cons-of-vaping/
  21. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v13i6.pdf
  22. Cox, C. (September, 2015). A Smoking Gun, Cancer causing chemicals in e-cigarettes. Oakland, California: Center For Environmental Health. http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/09/04/Smoking%20Gun.pdf
  23. McNeill A., Brose LS., Calder R., Hitchman SC., Hajek P., & McRobbie H. (August, 2015). E-cigarettes: an evidence update A report commissioned by Public Health England. London, UK.:Public Health England. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/457102/Ecigarettes_an_evidence_update_A_report_commissioned_by_Public_Health_England_FINAL.pdf
  24. Shoenborn, C., & Gindi, R. (2015, October 28). NCHS Data Brief. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db217.htm
  25. [Retro Active]. (2015, August 15). UUL E-Cigarette Vaporizer | Retro Active Smoke Shop. [Video File]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_luws1CHto