The inventor of a new product or service is not nearly as well-known as the person you see in the media. Elon Musk is the famous boss of Tesla, but electric cars have been around for a long time. Steve Jobs was the figurehead of Apple, yet he was especially good at "translating" ideas that other people have come up with. It also seems to be the same with Hon Lik, the real inventor of the e-cigarette.

Why was the e-cigarette invented?

Hon Lik's father was in hospital in 2003 with cancer. He was not allowed to smoke by the doctors, yet he had a need for nicotine that could not be met with patches. As a pharmacist with technical knowledge, his son devised an electrical device that could evaporate a liquid with nicotine. It was too late for Hon Lik's father, but not for the rest of the world. He did not get rich quick from his invention, because in Chinese culture it is very normal to copy a good idea.

Made in China

We mainly know China as a production country, where they are good at copying Western ideas. Yet the e-cigarette is really an invention from China, Philips Morris wanted to buy the Hon Lik patent. He was afraid that the project would be "buried" and rejected a substantial sum of money. Only many years later would the large tobacco company itself enter this market. The pharmaceutical company Dekang has also played an important role in the success of vapors. In 2008, they switched to producing e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking. After America and Russia, France was the first country in Europe where they would sell their products. One French pulmonologist already indicated in 2013 that the number of deaths on an annual basis could fall from 65,000 to 65 if all smokers were to switch.

Hon Lik was too late to save his father, his invention could save millions of other lives.