2007: The first e-cigarettes enter the American market
Companies like Ruyan begin selling e-cigarettes stateside.
2008: New Zealand welcomes e-cigarettes, and so does Germany, after some debate
While countries like Panama, Australia, and Holland(!) have banned e-cigs outright, the New Zealand Ministry of Health declares them a “safe alternative to smoking." That same year (2008) in Germany, there's a protest in Düsseldorf, in response to actual raids on stores selling the devices. Within a matter of weeks, the Higher Administrative Court for North Rhine-Westphalia (phew!) decrees that warnings be removed from e-cigarette packaging, and that it be declassified from a drug to a tobacco product.
2010: The first “VapeFest” is held in Richmond, VA in 2010
The first generation of e-cigarettes available stateside are perceived to be dinky, unsatisfying, and overpriced; they’re disposable, and cost around $15 a pop. In response, a cultish cadre of “vapers” emerges, ex-smokers who passionately make their own e-cigarettes. It’s a Wild West of a marketplace, with very few regulations, and its origins as a substantial movement can be traced to the first VapeFest, an event that was half trade show, half convention, as vapers from all across the US gathered to show off their homemade “mods” and swap flavors.
2010: Katherine Heigl is the first celebrity to candidly use an e-cig on TV
Katherine Heigl puffs on an e-cigarette on David Letterman. Well not on David Letterman the person.
2010: FDA tries to block import of e-cigarettes, but a federal judge rules they are legal
E-cigarettes sold in the US are mostly manufactured in China; there is a $100 million market Stateside.
2013: When e-cigarette sales reach $1.5 Billion, Big Tobacco gets on the e-cig bandwagon
Having ignored e-cigarettes since the 60s (Gilbert’s idea was presented to them shortly after being patented), Big Tobacco makes moves in the electronic cigarette market when it proves profitable. And, as Big Tobacco is a monster industry, they’ve already bought up most of the game.
2014: The number of American e-cig users is now nearly the same as cigarette smokers
Since 1965, the percentage of American adults who smoke has fallen from 42% to 20%. And while e-cigarettes only entered the American market en masse in 2007, 18.7% of Americans in 2014 report taking a drag on an e-cig at least once, and one in five of those Americans keep on puffing once they’ve had a taste.