When we look back over the last 10 years of vaping, so much has changed in such a small amount of time relatively speaking. For an entire worldwide industry to push technology so fast in such a short span of time and to continue to do it on a regular basis is nothing short of extraordinary. When you go back even further to 2006 and the birth of the electronic cigarette via Hon Lik, compare that to your set up next to you right now, with its sub ohm tank and 200w of potential power. It is like a completely different device yet deep down it really isn’t, it is still there to keep you from smoking via a safer nicotine delivery method. Nearly every one of us has vaped through different eras, different types of devices and seen changes to vaping that has advanced it far more than we could have imagined 6 months earlier. Even now we see the flood of pod style devices on the market and you can compare it to only a few years ago where sub ohm dominated and it just feels like an era ago. So with all that being said, how has the vaping industry had so many evolutions in such a small amount of time, more importantly, when? When were these turning points that completely changed the industry for the better (or worse) and what effect did they have?
The Birth of Sub Ohm Vaping
One of the most significant changes to vaping that we have ever seen happened way back in 2014 with the birth of the sub ohm tank. The significance of this was quite apparent soon after but we will take a step back for a moment and look at how we got there. Up until this point vaping was strictly a MTL style of vaping. From the poor cigalikes in every newsagent to the standard tank and pen style battery, people vaped as they smoked and it worked. It allowed thousands to make the switch and let an industry in its infancy to grow from a humble beginning. A tank back then was almost rope style wicking with a pen style design which was low power but high nicotine / PG content. In a way it was almost the perfect introduction for vaping as it served its purpose extremely well and got people interested. Then at around April time, a company called Aspire released the Nautilus tank and it changed everything, bringing bottom BVC (bottom vertical coils) which used cotton as wicking and suddenly vaping just got that little better. In fact the nautilus was so popular it reigned supreme for around 2 years before its successor took the mantle. This was influential alone not because of the coil type but how well the coil performed compared to its rivals. Suddenly you started getting weeks of coil life compared to days, superior flavour and a new tank design that helped bring in the box mod. By itself, this would be a wonderful introduction to this article but this not where we are focusing, but we are looking at Aspire.
Around November 2014 it seemed that Aspire had released a successor to the popular nautilus tank called the Atlantis. It kept the oceanic style name and offered bigger capacity so people got excited. However what released was something entirely different that completely changed vaping forever. The Atlantis was not a successor at all, it was a completely new tank and more importantly, a new way to vape. Before coils were rated in ohms, on average around 1.8 ohms but the Atlantis broke the ohm limit and took the resistance below 1. The coils demanded more power and a new way to vape, direct lung vaping. This method was called sub ohm and from then on vaping never looked back which led us to the point where we are at today. But how did it revolutionise vaping? After all a sub ohm tank release by itself is still not too special given that it would naturally end up there right? Only rebuildable style vapers (which was in its infancy itself) had experienced sub ohm vaping and even then the mods weren’t available to really make the most of it. Before long , this release become the catalyst for many companies to match and outperform developing some long standing brands in the process. Uwell, Smok, Kangatech with its sub-box followed suit and suddenly everyone started pushing the potential of vaping more than ever before. E-Liquids suddenly started adding more and more VG to their balance to give bigger clouds which instigated many companies to expand its products to cater for the new sub ohm vapers. Cloud competitions suddenly became popular as vapers started to enjoy the new joy of vaping beyond mimicking a cigarette in their style. The rebuildable market took off as well with vapers opening their eyes to the potential of what vaping could do rather than accept what they had. It was a truly inspirational moment in vaping history that we simply can’t downplay. Like a chain reaction, suddenly companies went one better with each of their new releases and 12 months after the Atlantis release, we had multiple coils, Temperature control becoming popular and were on the cusp of the blow up of 2016 with tanks such as the TFV8 and Cleito ready to improve vaping to a whole new level.
The Birth of Voopoo
The next step in our trip through the years was the birth of Voopoo, the real birth of the company. You will have heard of Voopoo before, they are the company that are one of the biggest selling companies of recent years and they have some of the biggest selling mods of all time to back that up. So given that you know who Voopoo are, you may be wondering why I include them in this like they are some sort of revolutionary company. It is not what they did, it was what happened after it. But before I get ahead of myself, let us start at the beginning, the origins of Voopoo.
Voopoo were established in 2010 and despite what you may think you know, they were not an E-cigarette company at the very beginning. Their ambition at the time was to serve the medical and industrial fields and that they did, growing year on year developing their technological prowess. They were not even called Voopoo, they were known as ICPP as far back as 2014. However things changed in 2016 when they bought out a company called Woody Vapes and all of a sudden Voopoo was born. A vaping brand that at the time was just one in a haystack of many growing out of China but the acceleration of their flagship product was on the horizon and from that moment on, it changed everything. In 2017, Voopoo became strategic partners with the GENE corporation to create chips for them and then out of the blue, the Drag was born.
Everyone has heard of the Voopoo Drag mod, one of the biggest selling devices of all time and that was not by accident. The GENE chip inside of it offered both fantastic performance and battery life encased in a metal simple box mod design with resin style panels. When you describe it like that, you wonder why it was so popular yet at the time, there was nothing like it, a mod designed for performance over novelty, to offer everything in one package. It was from this moment however that it revolutionised the vaping industry over the next 18 months because all of a sudden they became a market leader overnight. The mod designs of time before suddenly disappeared and more and more companies started to develop their own box mods. In fact much like the pod revolution now, every company looked to get their own flagship box mod out on the market to compete, especially with the release of the Drag 2 the following year. Voopoo refined their design and it remains very popular to this day. However the release of the Drag was not just influential on its design, it was the chip inside that was the real innovator. All of a sudden the mod stopped being just a battery powered design, the chip took precedent over everything else. Companies such as Vaporesso and Geekvape suddenly started pushing the possibilities of their chips inside to try and match the performance of the GENE chip. Smok even abandoned their cookie cutter design that dominated those initial 12 months (leading to quality control issues) and focused on their chip. Before the Drag was released, a mod was a simple battery powered device for the sole purpose of vaping, after however, it became so much more. Even today in the pod market we see companies boasting of their chip quality above all else, companies realised that customers wanted quality.
The Rise of JUUL
The face of the bad guys to some, the reason why Americans are fighting for their vaping rights to others, you can’t really mention the company name without getting some negative feedback like they have single handedly ended the industry. However that isn’t true and what we will see in the coming months is a whole new face of the vaping industry take place, headed up by some familiar and some brand new faces, with JUUL just lingering in between. When you talk about revolution in vaping, they are up there with the best of them and to some extent we don;t really realise just how much they have influenced the industry since their inception in 2016.
JUUL were set up back in 2015 from a company called Pax Labs, a herbal vaporisor that was actually rather popular with many people of the illegal substance avenues. JUUL was the vaping device, the non drug related device as it were using similar technology that Pax had developed and it proved to be a big hit on the market. Using closed pod systems with high nicotine content, it made vaping much more accessible and available to many smokers and the company just sky rocketed. They carried their fair share of negative coverage, became a meme, had a tobacco invest in them to name just a few adventures along the way but as of 2019 they had 72% of the market share in America with plans to expand overseas at the first opportunity. It has all come crashing down for them since then, with the FDA effectively going to war with them and bit by bit chipping away until the company was sent into a downward spiral. We don’t know if they will recover and some pray that they don’t but the fact remains JUUL were a giant of the industry in America, even for just a small amount of time.
So when we talk about revolutions in vaping, we have to look at what influence that JUUL has on the industry and the first port of call is in the pods themselves. Up until 2015/16 , freebase nicotine was used to deliver the nicotine hit to vapers no matter what device they used. JUUL changed all of that with the introduction of nicotine salt into their devices allowing them to have higher nicotine content whilst providing a smoother flavour. They may not have been the absolute first in using this but it is fair to say since JUUL started, everyone else began as well. Now Nicotine Salt is one of the most popular MTL style of nicotine on the market today with plenty of companies utilising the benefits of using such a nicotine over the standard freebase. So straight away JUUL influenced how companies started to deliver nicotine in a way to make it more enjoyable to vapers, an effect we still feel today. However it does not stop there, for the simple point of look around you on the market today, what do you see? Since JUUL rose to such fame, other vaping manufacturers took note of what exactly they were selling, pods. The fact of the matter is 72% of the share in America was vapers and smokers who were quitting, were buying these closed pod devices. They were cheap, easy and it represented a whole other picture to the previous big mod style that had come to represent vaping. So companies took note, aimed to do it better and thus you can see the pod market was born. How many different pod devices are out now that only 2 years ago were never even in anyone’s thoughts? Is it a surprise that the rise of JUUL has had such a massive impact on the market? Next time you see a pod device, just think, it all started with a simple closed pod system that are being blamed for everything wrong in vaping in America today.
We could go on and on with this subject and I would love to. Simply going back to 2007 and the first modded devices were released which then influenced the market into what we know it as today, even in the early stages. Or the first rebuildable device released, what instigated a whole new way to vape that many vapers even going back to 2013/14 grasped with two hands over the available stock products. No matter what we have had revolution after revolution and right now we are just sitting tight for the next one. When you think about it, how influential was mesh coils? It changed the way both sub ohm tanks operated and it pushed rebuildables to better themselves even more to keep that gap maintained for flavour and performance. When it comes to vaping, sometimes all you need is a little spark to instigate a whole revolution in vaping and we have seen in this very article how a small spark makes an incredible difference. We can only guess at what the next spark will be, after all the pod market isn’t going away anytime soon but eventually people will want something else, something new and different and it is down to the industry to keep searching for it.