(19)
(11)EP 3 692 824 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
12.08.2020 Bulletin 2020/33

(21)Application number: 19155945.9

(22)Date of filing:  07.02.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A24F 7/00(2006.01)
A24C 5/60(2006.01)
A24F 47/00(2020.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(71)Applicant: Nerudia Ltd.
Liverpool, Merseyside L24 9HP (GB)

(72)Inventor:
  • The designation of the inventor has not yet been filed
     ()

(74)Representative: Mewburn Ellis LLP 
Aurora Building Counterslip
Bristol BS1 6BX
Bristol BS1 6BX (GB)

  


(54)SMOKING SUBSTITUTE APPARATUS


(57) A mouthpiece (202) for a smoking substitute apparatus and a flavourant dispenser (400) for dispensing liquid flavourant onto an outer surface of a mouthpiece, the mouthpiece comprising:
an outlet (204) for conveying an aerosol generated by the smoking substitute apparatus to a user; and
a textured outer surface (206) configured to receive a liquid flavourant and distribute the liquid flavourant over the textured outer surface through capillary action of the liquid flavourant on the textured outer surface.




Description

Field of the Invention



[0001] The present invention relates to a mouthpiece for a smoking substitute apparatus, and to a flavourant dispenser for applying flavourant to the mouthpiece.

Background



[0002] The smoking of tobacco is generally considered to expose a smoker to potentially harmful substances. It is generally thought that a significant amount of the potentially harmful substances are generated through the heat caused by the burning and/or combustion of the tobacco and the constituents of the burnt tobacco in the tobacco smoke itself.

[0003] Combustion of organic material such as tobacco is known to produce tar and other potentially harmful byproducts. There have been proposed various smoking substitute systems in order to avoid the smoking of tobacco.

[0004] Such smoking substitute systems can form part of nicotine replacement therapies aimed at people who wish to stop smoking and overcome a dependence on nicotine.

[0005] Smoking substitute systems include electronic systems that permit a user to simulate the act of smoking by producing an aerosol (also referred to as a "vapour") that is drawn into the lungs through the mouth (inhaled) and then exhaled. The inhaled aerosol typically bears nicotine and/or a flavourant without, or with fewer of, the odour and health risks associated with traditional smoking.

[0006] In general, smoking substitute systems are intended to provide a substitute for the rituals of smoking, whilst providing the user with a similar experience and satisfaction to those experienced with traditional smoking and with combustible tobacco products.

[0007] The popularity and use of smoking substitute systems has grown rapidly in the past few years. Although originally marketed as an aid to assist habitual smokers wishing to quit tobacco smoking, consumers are increasingly viewing smoking substitute systems as desirable lifestyle accessories. There are a number of different categories of smoking substitute systems, each utilising a different smoking substitute approach.

[0008] One approach is the so-called "vaping" approach, in which a vaporisable liquid, typically referred to (and referred to herein) as "e-liquid", is heated by a heating device (referred to herein as an electronic cigarette or "e-cigarette" device) to produce an aerosol vapour which is inhaled by a user. The e-liquid typically includes a base liquid as well as nicotine and/or a flavourant. The resulting vapour therefore also typically contains nicotine and/or a flavourant. The base liquid may include propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine.

[0009] A typical e-cigarette device includes a mouthpiece, a power source (typically a battery), a tank for containing e-liquid, as well as a heating device. In use, electrical energy is supplied from the power source to the heating device, which heats the e-liquid to produce an aerosol (or "vapour") which is inhaled by a user through the mouthpiece.

[0010] E-cigarettes can be configured in a variety of ways. For example, there are "closed system" vaping smoking substitute systems, which typically have a sealed tank and heating element. The tank is prefilled with e-liquid and is not intended to be refilled by an end user. One subset of closed system vaping smoking substitute systems include a main body which includes the power source, wherein the main body is configured to be physically and electrically coupled to a consumable including the tank and the heating element. In this way, when the tank of a consumable has been emptied, that consumable is disposed of. The main body can be reused by connecting it to a new, replacement, consumable. Another subset of closed system vaping smoking substitute systems are completely disposable, and intended for one-use only.

[0011] There are also "open system" vaping smoking substitute systems which typically have a tank that is configured to be refilled by a user. In this way the entire device can be used multiple times.

[0012] An example vaping smoking substitute system is the myblu™ e-cigarette. The myblu™ e-cigarette is a closed system which includes a main body and a consumable. The main body and consumable are physically and electrically coupled together by pushing the consumable into the main body. The main body includes a rechargeable battery. The consumable includes a mouthpiece, a sealed tank which contains e-liquid, as well as a heater, which for this device is a heating filament coiled around a portion of a wick. The wick is partially immersed in the e-liquid, and conveys e-liquid from the tank to the heating filament. The device is activated when a microprocessor on board the main body detects a user inhaling through the mouthpiece. When the device is activated, electrical energy is supplied from the power source to the heating device, which heats e-liquid from the tank to produce a vapour which is inhaled by a user through the mouthpiece.

[0013] An alternative to the "vaping" approach is the so-called Heated Tobacco ("HT") approach in which tobacco (rather than an e-liquid) is heated or warmed to release vapour. HT is also known as "heat not burn" ("HNB"). The tobacco may be leaf tobacco or reconstituted tobacco. In the HT approach the intention is that the tobacco is heated but not burned, i.e. the tobacco does not undergo combustion.

[0014] The heating, as opposed to burning, of the tobacco material is believed to cause fewer, or smaller quantities, of the more harmful compounds ordinarily produced during smoking. Consequently, the HT approach may reduce the odour and/or health risks that can arise through the burning, combustion and pyrolytic degradation of tobacco.

[0015] A typical HT smoking substitute system may include a device and a consumable. The consumable may include the tobacco material. The device and consumable may be configured to be physically coupled together. In use, heat may be imparted to the tobacco material by a heating element of the device, wherein airflow through the tobacco material causes components in the tobacco material to be released as vapour. A vapour may also be formed from a carrier in the tobacco material (this carrier may for example include propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine) and additionally volatile compounds released from the tobacco. The released vapour may be entrained in the airflow drawn through the tobacco.

[0016] As the vapour passes through the consumable (entrained in the airflow) from the location of vapourisation to an outlet of the consumable (e.g. a mouthpiece), the vapour cools and condenses to form an aerosol for inhalation by the user. The aerosol may contain nicotine and/or flavour compounds.

[0017] For a smoking substitute device it is desirable to deliver nicotine into the user's lungs, where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. As explained above, in the so-called "vaping" approach, e-liquid is heated by a heating device to produce an aerosol vapour which is inhaled by a user. Many e-cigarettes also deliver flavour to the user to enhance the experience. In such e-cigarettes, flavour compounds are contained in the e-liquid that is heated. However, toxicology restrictions are placed on the amount of flavour that can be contained in the e-liquid, and this can result in some e-liquid flavours delivering a weak and underwhelming taste sensation to consumers in the pursuit of safety. Further, there is a view that providing a flavourant as part of the e-liquid, such that the flavourant is vaporised with the e-liquid, may be disadvantageous.

[0018] There may be a need for improved design of smoking substitute systems, in particular in regards to the delivery of flavour to a user.

[0019] The present disclosure has been devised in the light of the above considerations.

Summary of the Invention



[0020] At its most general, the present invention relates to a mouthpiece for a smoking substitute apparatus that is arranged to receive a liquid flavourant applied thereto, and to distribute the flavourant over an area of the mouthpiece. In this manner, when a user puts the mouthpiece in their mouth to use the smoking substitute apparatus, flavourant located on the mouthpiece may produce a flavour for the user. In this manner, flavour may be delivered to the user via flavourant on the mouthpiece, rather than through a flavourant contained in an aerosol-former (e.g. e-liquid or tobacco material) of the of the smoking substitute apparatus. As a result, there may be no need to include any flavourants in the aerosol-former of the smoking substitute apparatus.

[0021] A flavourant may be applied to the mouthpiece when the user wishes to experience flavour. The user may also apply an amount of flavourant to the mouthpiece according to their taste, e.g. depending on whether they want to experience a strong flavour or not. Flavourants having different flavours may be applied to the mouthpiece, so that the user may experience different flavours, without having to otherwise modify the smoking substitute apparatus. This may improve a versatility of the smoking substitute apparatus.

[0022] According to a first aspect there is provided a mouthpiece for a smoking substitute apparatus, the mouthpiece comprising: an outlet for conveying an aerosol generated by the smoking substitute apparatus to a user; and a textured outer surface configured to receive a liquid flavourant and distribute the liquid flavourant over the textured outer surface through capillary action of the liquid flavourant on the textured outer surface.

[0023] In this manner, due to the textured outer surface of the mouthpiece, liquid flavourant may be retained on the surface of the mouthpiece. The textured outer surface may further serve to distribute the liquid flavourant over an area of the mouthpiece via capillary action of the liquid flavourant on the textured outer surface, e.g. the liquid flavourant may be wicked across the textured outer surface. In this manner, after applying liquid flavourant to the mouthpiece, liquid flavourant may be present over an area corresponding to the textured outer surface. This may serve to provide a large contact area between the flavourant on the mouthpiece and the user's tongue when the user puts the mouthpiece in their mouth. As a result, flavour delivery to the user may be enhanced. The textured outer surface may also enable a larger amount of liquid flavourant to be carried by the mouthpiece than without any textured outer surface, which may enable flavourant to be delivered to the user for a longer period of time.

[0024] The term "flavourant" is used to describe a compound or combination of compounds that provide flavour and/or aroma. For example, the flavourant may be configured to interact with a sensory receptor of a user (such as an olfactory or taste receptor). The flavourant may include one or more volatile substances.

[0025] The liquid flavourant may be a flavourant that is provided in liquid form. The flavourant may be natural or synthetic. For example, the flavourant may include menthol, liquorice, chocolate, fruit flavour (including e.g. citrus, cherry etc.), vanilla, spice (e.g. ginger, cinnamon) and tobacco flavour. The flavourant may be evenly dispersed or may be provided in isolated locations and/or varying concentrations.

[0026] The textured outer surface may include a plurality of channels arranged to conduct the liquid flavourant through capillary action of the liquid flavourant in the channels. The channels may, for example, be in the form of grooves in the outer surface of the mouthpiece. Liquid flavourant may be retained in the channels due to a surface tension of the liquid flavourant in the channels. The plurality of channels may extend over an area of the mouthpiece, so that liquid flavourant is distributed over that area, via wicking (capillary action) of the flavourant through the channels. The channels may be referred to as capillary channels.

[0027] The textured outer surface may include a plurality of protrusions arranged to form the plurality of channels. In other words, the channels may be formed between adjacent protrusions on the surface of the mouthpiece. For example, the plurality of protrusions may include a set of identically shaped protrusions that are arranged in a regular array on the surface of the mouthpiece. This may result in a set of channels which are all oriented in the same direction. This may serve to conduct the liquid flavourant in a preferential direction. Alternatively, the protrusions may be arranged in a substantially random manner, which may result in random channel orientations.

[0028] The plurality of channels may include a first set of channels arranged in parallel along a first direction. In this manner, the first set of channels may conduct liquid flavourant along the first direction. This may serve to conduct liquid flavourant towards an area of the mouthpiece that is likely to come into contact with the user's tongue during use. This may also serve to provide an even distribution of the liquid flavourant over an area of the mouthpiece.

[0029] The first direction may be substantially perpendicular to a flow direction of aerosol through the outlet of the mouthpiece. Typically, aerosol may flow through the outlet in a direction that is parallel to a longitudinal axis of the smoking substitute apparatus. In use, the longitudinal axis of the smoking substitute apparatus may often be tilted downwards. By orienting the first set of channels so that they are substantially perpendicular to the flow direction of aerosol through the outlet, it may be possible to reduce the risk of liquid flavourant dripping down along the mouthpiece during use. In some cases, the first set of channels may be interconnected by a further channel, e.g. by a channel extending along the longitudinal axis.

[0030] The plurality of channels may include a second set of channels arranged in parallel along a second direction different from the first direction, the second set of channels intersecting the first set of channels. In this manner, liquid flavourant may be conducted along both the first and second directions, which may result in a more even distribution of the flavourant over the mouthpiece. For example, the first and second sets of channels may define a grid pattern on the surface of the mouthpiece. The second set of channels may be in fluid communication with the first set of channels, so that liquid flavourant present in the first and/or second set of channels may be wicked into the other set of channels.

[0031] The textured outer surface may include a fluid receiving portion for receiving the liquid flavourant, the fluid receiving portion being fluidly connected to the plurality of channels. In this manner, liquid flavourant deposited in the fluid receiving portion of the mouthpiece may be wicked through the plurality of channels so that it is distributed over an area of the mouthpiece. Thus, a user may only need to apply a liquid flavourant to a single area on the mouthpiece, i.e. to the fluid receiving portion. For example, the fluid receiving portion may be a reservoir (e.g. cavity or recess) defined in a surface of the mouthpiece, with one or more of the plurality of channels being arranged to conduct fluid (e.g. liquid flavourant) out of the reservoir.

[0032] The mouthpiece may include an absorbent material for absorbing liquid flavourant. In this manner, flavourant applied to the mouthpiece may be absorbed by the absorbent material on the mouthpiece. This may enable the mouthpiece to absorb a larger amount of flavourant, so that the mouthpiece may deliver flavourant to the user for a longer period of time. The absorbent material may define the textured outer surface of the mouthpiece, e.g. an outer surface of the absorbent material may correspond to the textured outer surface.

[0033] Any suitable absorbent material may be used. For example the absorbent material may be a cloth material, or a sponge-like material.

[0034] The absorbent material may be a porous plastic. This may facilitate cleaning of the mouthpiece. This may also facilitate making of the mouthpiece, as the porous plastic may be formed into a mouthpiece using a moulding technique. As an example, porous plastics manufactured by Porex corporation may be used.

[0035] The mouthpiece may further include an engagement portion arranged to engage a dispensing portion on a flavourant dispenser. The engagement portion may serve to align the flavourant dispenser over the textured surface of the mouthpiece, to facilitate dispensing of liquid flavourant onto the textured surface using the flavourant dispenser. For example, the engagement portion may include a protrusion on the mouthpiece which is arranged to engage the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser. Alternatively or additionally, the engagement portion may include a recess or cavity in the surface of the mouthpiece, which is arranged to receive a protrusion on the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser.

[0036] The engagement portion may be in the form a key on the mouthpiece which is arranged to engage a corresponding interface in the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser. When the key is engaged in the interface, the dispensing portion may be configured to dispense flavourant onto the mouthpiece. This may serve to prevent dispensing of the liquid flavourant by the flavourant dispenser when a mouthpiece having the appropriate key is not present.

[0037] The engagement portion of the mouthpiece may include a wall that is arranged to define part of a receptacle on the mouthpiece for receiving liquid flavourant from the flavourant dispenser. For example, the wall may serve to define part of the fluid receiving portion of the textured outer surface. When the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser is engaged with the engagement portion of the mouthpiece, the wall of the engagement portion, together with a wall of the dispensing portion may form a receptacle for receiving liquid flavourant dispensed by the flavourant dispenser. In this manner, a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant may be dispensed into the receptacle. Then, when the dispensing portion is removed from the mouthpiece, liquid flavourant that was dispensed into the receptacle may exit the receptacle to be distributed across the textured surface.

[0038] According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a smoking substitute apparatus including a mouthpiece according to the first aspect of the invention. The mouthpiece may be removably mounted on the smoking substitute apparatus. Alternatively, the mouthpiece may be integrally formed as part of the smoking substitute apparatus.

[0039] The smoking substitute apparatus may be in the form of a consumable. The consumable may be configured for engagement with a main body (i.e. so as to form a closed smoking substitute system). For example, the consumable may comprise components of the system that are disposable, and the main body may comprise non-disposable or non-consumable components (e.g. power supply, controller, sensor, etc.) that facilitate the delivery of aerosol by the consumable. In such an embodiment, the aerosol former (e.g. e-liquid) may be replenished by replacing a used consumable with an unused consumable.

[0040] Alternatively, the smoking substitute apparatus may be a non-consumable apparatus (e.g. that is in the form of an open smoking substitute system). In such embodiments an aerosol former (e.g. e-liquid) of the system may be replenished by re-filling e.g. a reservoir of the smoking substitute apparatus with the aerosol former (rather than replacing a consumable component of the apparatus).

[0041] In light of this, it should be appreciated that some of the features described herein as being part of the smoking substitute apparatus may alternatively form part of a main body for engagement with the smoking substitute apparatus (i.e. when the smoking substitute apparatus is in the form of a consumable).

[0042] Where the smoking substitute apparatus is in the form of a consumable, the main body and the consumable may be configured to be physically coupled together. For example, the consumable may be at least partially received in a recess of the main body, such that there is an interference fit between the main body and the consumable. Alternatively, the main body and the consumable may be physically coupled together by screwing one onto the other, or through a bayonet fitting.

[0043] Thus, the smoking substitute apparatus may comprise one or more engagement portions for engaging with a main body. In this way, one end of the smoking substitute apparatus may be coupled with the main body, whilst an opposing end of the smoking substitute apparatus may define a mouthpiece of the smoking substitute system.

[0044] The smoking substitute apparatus may comprise a reservoir configured to store an aerosol former, such as an e-liquid. The e-liquid may, for example, comprise a base liquid and e.g. nicotine. The base liquid may include propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine. The e-liquid may be flavourless. That is, the e-liquid may not contain any flavourants and may consist solely of a base liquid of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine and nicotine.

[0045] The reservoir may be in the form of a tank. At least a portion of the tank may be translucent. For example, the tank may comprise a window to allow a user to visually assess the quantity of e-liquid in the tank. A housing of the smoking substitute apparatus may comprise a corresponding aperture (or slot) or window that may be aligned with a translucent portion (e.g. window) of the tank. The reservoir may be referred to as a "clearomizer" if it includes a window, or a "cartomizer" if it does not.

[0046] The smoking substitute apparatus may comprise a passage for fluid flow therethrough. The passage may extend through (at least a portion of) the smoking substitute apparatus, between openings that may define an inlet and an outlet of the passage. The outlet may be at a mouthpiece of the smoking substitute apparatus. In this respect, a user may draw fluid (e.g. air) into and through the passage by inhaling at the outlet (i.e. using the mouthpiece). The passage may be at least partially defined by the tank. The tank may substantially (or fully) define the passage. In this respect, the tank may surround the passage.

[0047] The smoking substitute apparatus may comprise an aerosol-generator. The aerosol generator may comprise a wick. The aerosol generator may further comprise a heater. The wick may comprise a porous material. A portion of the wick may be exposed to fluid flow in the passage. The wick may also comprise one or more portions in contact with liquid stored in the reservoir. For example, opposing ends of the wick may protrude into the reservoir and a central portion (between the ends) may extend across the passage so as to be exposed to fluid flow in the passage. Thus, fluid may be drawn (e.g. by capillary action) along the wick, from the reservoir to the exposed portion of the wick.

[0048] The heater may comprise a heating element, which may be in the form of a filament wound about the wick (e.g. the filament may extend helically about the wick). The filament may be wound about the exposed portion of the wick. The heating element may be electrically connected (or connectable) to a power source. Thus, in operation, the power source may supply electricity to (i.e. apply a voltage across) the heating element so as to heat the heating element. This may cause liquid stored in the wick (i.e. drawn from the tank) to be heated so as to form a vapour and become entrained in fluid flowing through the passage. This vapour may subsequently cool to form an aerosol in the passage.

[0049] The smoking substitute apparatus (or main body engaged with the smoking substitute apparatus) may comprise a power source. The power source may be electrically connected (or connectable) to a heater of the smoking substitute apparatus (e.g. when engaged with the main body). The power source may be a battery (e.g. a rechargeable battery). A connector in the form of e.g. a USB port may be provided for recharging this battery.

[0050] When the smoking substitute apparatus is in the form of a consumable, the smoking substitute apparatus may comprise an electrical interface for interfacing with a corresponding electrical interface of the main body. One or both of the electrical interfaces may include one or more electrical contacts. Thus, when the main body is engaged with the consumable, the electrical interface may be configured to transfer electrical power from the power source to a heater of the consumable.

[0051] The electrical interface may also be used to identify the smoking substitute apparatus (in the form of a consumable) from a list of known types. For example, the consumable may have a certain concentration of nicotine and the electrical interface may be used to identify this. The electrical interface may additionally or alternatively be used to identify when a consumable is connected to the main body.

[0052] Again, where the smoking substitute apparatus is in the form of a consumable, the main body may comprise an interface, which may, for example, be in the form of an RFID reader, a barcode or QR code reader. This interface may be able to identify a characteristic (e.g. a type) of a consumable engaged with the main body. In this respect, the consumable may include any one or more of an RFID chip, a barcode or QR code, or memory within which is an identifier and which can be interrogated via the interface.

[0053] The smoking substitute apparatus or main body may comprise a controller, which may include a microprocessor. The controller may be configured to control the supply of power from the power source to the heater of the smoking substitute apparatus (e.g. via the electrical contacts). A memory may be provided and may be operatively connected to the controller. The memory may include non-volatile memory. The memory may include instructions which, when implemented, cause the controller to perform certain tasks or steps of a method.

[0054] The main body or smoking substitute apparatus may comprise a wireless interface, which may be configured to communicate wirelessly with another device, for example a mobile device, e.g. via Bluetooth®. To this end, the wireless interface could include a Bluetooth® antenna. Other wireless communication interfaces, e.g. WiFi®, are also possible. The wireless interface may also be configured to communicate wirelessly with a remote server.

[0055] A puff sensor may be provided that is configured to detect a puff (i.e. inhalation from a user). The puff sensor may be operatively connected to the controller so as to be able to provide a signal to the controller that is indicative of a puff state (i.e. puffing or not puffing). The puff sensor may, for example, be in the form of a pressure sensor or an acoustic sensor. That is, the controller may control power supply to the heater of the consumable in response to a puff detection by the sensor. The control may be in the form of activation of the heater in response to a detected puff. That is, the smoking substitute apparatus may be configured to be activated when a puff is detected by the puff sensor. When the smoking substitute apparatus is in the form of a consumable, the puff sensor may form part of the consumable or the main body.

[0056] According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a flavourant dispenser for dispensing liquid flavourant onto an outer surface of a mouthpiece of a smoking substitute apparatus, the flavourant dispenser comprising: a reservoir for holding a liquid flavourant; and a dispensing portion arranged to engage the outer surface of the mouthpiece and to dispense a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant from the reservoir onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece when the dispensing portion engages the outer surface of the mouthpiece.

[0057] In this manner, a user may engage the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser with the outer surface of the mouthpiece to dispense a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant thereon, so that flavourant may be delivered to the user when they use the mouthpiece. This may avoid the liquid flavourant being accidentally dispensed when the dispensing portion is not engaged with the mouthpiece.

[0058] Dispensing a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant may avoid an excessive amount of liquid flavourant being applied to the mouthpiece, which could result in liquid flavourant dripping off the mouthpiece. The predetermined volume may be set to a volume of liquid flavourant that the mouthpiece is capable of holding. For example, where the mouthpiece includes a textured outer surface for receiving liquid flavourant, the predetermined volume may correspond to an amount of liquid flavourant that the textured outer surface is capable of holding.

[0059] The reservoir may be any suitable container for receiving and holding liquid flavourant. The reservoir may be in fluid communication with the dispensing portion, so that liquid flavourant from the reservoir may be dispensed by the dispensing portion. The dispensing portion may include an outlet through which liquid flavourant may be dispensed.

[0060] In some embodiments, the dispensing portion may include a valve that is openable to dispense liquid flavourant from the reservoir; the dispensing portion may be arranged to engage an engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece; and the valve may be opened by engagement between the dispensing portion and the engagement portion on the outer surface of the mouthpiece. In this manner, when the dispensing portion is engaged with the outer surface of the mouthpiece, the engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece may engage the dispensing portion (e.g. a corresponding engagement portion of the dispensing portion), which causes the valve to open so that liquid flavourant may be dispensed onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece. Thus, liquid flavourant may be automatically dispensed onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece when the dispensing portion is engaged with the mouthpiece. This may facilitate applying liquid flavourant to the mouthpiece.

[0061] The valve may be movable between an open and a closed position. The valve may be disposed between the reservoir and the outlet of the dispensing portion. Thus, when the valve is in the open position, the reservoir may be in fluid communication with the outlet so that liquid flavourant from the reservoir may be dispensed; when the valve is in the closed position, the valve may block liquid flavourant from exiting the reservoir via the outlet of the dispensing portion.

[0062] The valve may be biased towards to closed position, to prevent liquid flavourant from leaking when the flavourant dispenser is not in use. The valve may be biased using any suitable mechanism, e.g. via a spring or the like.

[0063] The dispensing portion may include an interface which is configured to receive the engagement portion of the mouthpiece in the form of a key. When the key is engaged in the interface of the dispensing portion, the dispensing portion may be configured to dispense flavourant onto the mouthpiece. This may serve to prevent dispensing of the liquid flavourant by the flavourant dispenser when a mouthpiece having the appropriate key is not present.

[0064] The dispensing portion may include a wall arranged to form part of a receptacle for receiving liquid flavourant when the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser is engaged with the engagement portion of the mouthpiece. When the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser is engaged with the engagement portion of the mouthpiece, the wall of the dispensing portion, together with a wall of the engagement portion of the mouthpiece, may form a receptacle for receiving liquid flavourant dispensed by the flavourant dispenser. The receptacle may have a volume corresponding to the predetermined volume of liquid flavourant dispensed by the dispensing portion. Thus, when the dispensing portion engages the engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece, the valve is opened so that liquid flavourant is dispensed from the dispensing portion into the receptacle on the mouthpiece formed by the wall of the dispensing portion and a wall of the engagement portion of the mouthpiece. Then, when the dispensing portion is removed from the mouthpiece, liquid flavourant that was dispensed into the receptacle may exit the receptacle to be distributed across the surface of the mouthpiece, e.g. via a textured outer surface of the mouthpiece.

[0065] According to a fourth aspect of the invention, there is provided a smoking substitute kit including a smoking substitute apparatus according to the second aspect of the invention, and a flavourant dispenser according to the third aspect of the invention. The dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser may be arranged to engage the outer surface of the mouthpiece of the smoking substitute apparatus and to dispense a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant from the reservoir onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece when the dispensing portion engages the outer surface of the mouthpiece.

[0066] Where the dispensing portion includes a valve, and the outer surface of the mouthpiece includes an engagement portion: the dispensing portion may be arranged to engage an engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece; and the valve may be opened by engagement between the dispensing portion and the engagement portion on the outer surface of the mouthpiece.

[0067] The engagement portion of the mouthpiece may be in the form a key on the mouthpiece which is arranged to engage a corresponding interface in the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser. When the key is engaged in the interface, the dispensing portion may be configured to dispense flavourant onto the mouthpiece. This may serve to prevent dispensing of the liquid flavourant by the flavourant dispenser when a mouthpiece having the appropriate key is not present.

[0068] The engagement portion of the mouthpiece may include a first wall that is arranged to define a first part of a receptacle on the mouthpiece for receiving liquid flavourant from the flavourant dispenser, and the dispensing portion may include a second wall arranged to form a second part of the receptacle. In this manner, when the dispensing portion of the mouthpiece is engaged with the engagement portion, the first and second walls may together form the receptacle in which liquid flavourant is dispensed by the dispensing portion. A volume of the receptacle may correspond to the predetermined volume of liquid flavourant dispensed by the dispensing portion.

[0069] According to a fifth aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of delivering flavour to a user of a smoking substitute apparatus, the method including: applying a liquid flavourant to an outer surface of a mouthpiece of the smoking substitute apparatus; using, by the user, the smoking substitute apparatus. In this manner, flavourant applied to the outer surface of the mouthpiece may be delivered to the user when they use the smoking substitute apparatus. Using the smoking substitute apparatus may include inhaling, by the user, an aerosol generated by the smoking substitute apparatus.

[0070] The method of the fifth aspect of the invention may be used with any of the previous aspects of the invention.

[0071] Applying the liquid flavourant to the outer surface of the mouthpiece may include using a flavourant dispenser of the third aspect of the invention. For example, the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser may be engaged with the outer surface of the mouthpiece to dispense a predetermined volume of flavourant onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece. Where the dispensing portion includes a valve, and the outer surface of the mouthpiece includes an engagement portion, applying the liquid flavourant may include engaging the dispensing portion with the engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece, to open the valve and dispense liquid flavourant onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece.

[0072] Where the engagement portion of the mouthpiece includes a first wall that is arranged to define a first part of a receptacle on the mouthpiece for receiving liquid flavourant from the flavourant dispenser, and the dispensing portion includes a second wall arranged to form a second part of the receptacle, applying the liquid flavourant may include engaging the dispensing portion with the engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece to form, with the first wall and second wall, a receptacle for receiving liquid flavourant dispensed by the dispensing portion.

[0073] Where the mouthpiece is removably mountable on the smoking substitute apparatus, the method may further include mounting the mouthpiece on the smoking substitute apparatus (e.g. prior to applying the liquid flavourant).

[0074] The invention includes the combination of the aspects and preferred features described except where such a combination is clearly impermissible or expressly avoided.

Summary of the Figures



[0075] So that the invention may be understood, and so that further aspects and features thereof may be appreciated, embodiments illustrating the principles of the invention will now be discussed in further detail with reference to the accompanying figures, in which:

Figure 1A is a front view of a smoking substitute system, according to a first embodiment of the invention, in an engaged position;

Figure 1B is a front view of the smoking substitute system of the first embodiment in a disengaged position;

Figure 1C is a cross-sectional view of a smoking substitute apparatus of the first embodiment;

Figure 2 is a schematic side view of a smoking substitute apparatus according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 3 is an illustration of textured outer surfaces that may be included on a mouthpiece according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figures 4A-4C show schematic cross-sectionals views of a flavourant dispenser according to an embodiment of the invention, illustrating a process of dispensing a flavourant onto a mouthpiece according to an embodiment of the invention; and

Figures 5A and 5B show top views of an engagement portion of a mouthpiece according to embodiments of the invention.


Detailed Description of the Invention



[0076] Aspects and embodiments of the present invention will now be discussed with reference to the accompanying figures. Further aspects and embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art. All documents mentioned in this text are incorporated herein by reference.

[0077] Figures 1A and 1B illustrate a smoking substitute system in the form of an e-cigarette system 101. The system 101 comprises an e-cigarette device defining a main body 102 of the system 101, and an smoking substitute apparatus in the form of an e-cigarette consumable (or "pod") 103. In the illustrated embodiment the consumable 103 (smoking substitute apparatus) is removable from the main body (e-cigarette device), so as to be a replaceable component of the system 101. In other words, the e-cigarette system 101 is a closed system.

[0078] As is apparent from Figures 1A and 1B, the consumable 103 is configured to engage the main body 102. Figure 1A shows the main body 102 and the consumable 103 in an engaged state, whilst Figure 1B shows the main body 102 and the consumable 103 in a disengaged state. When engaged, a portion of the consumable 103 is received in a cavity of the main body 102 and is retained in the engaged position by way of a snap-engagement mechanism. In other embodiments, the main body 102 and consumable 103 may be engaged by screwing one into (or onto) the other, through a bayonet fitting, or by way of an interference fit.

[0079] The system 101 is configured to vaporise an aerosol-former, which in the illustrated embodiment, is in the form of a nicotine-based e-liquid 104. The e-liquid 104 comprises nicotine and a base liquid including propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine. In the present embodiment, the e-liquid 104 is flavourless (and does not include any added flavourant). That is, if the e-liquid 104 were to be inhaled (i.e. in aerosol form) by a user, it would not have a particularly perceptible flavour or taste.

[0080] As is more apparent from Figure 1C, this e-liquid 104 is stored within a reservoir in the form of a tank 105 that forms part of the consumable 103. In the illustrated embodiment, the consumable 103 is a "single-use" consumable 103. That is, upon exhausting the e-liquid 104 in the tank 105, the intention is that the user disposes of the entire consumable 103. In other embodiments, the e-liquid (i.e. aerosol former) may be the only part of the system that is truly "single-use". That is, the tank may be refillable with e-liquid or the e-liquid may be stored in a non-consumable component of the system. For example, the e-liquid may be stored in a tank located in the main body or stored in another component that is itself not single-use (e.g. a refillable cartomizer).

[0081] The tank 105 surrounds, and thus defines a portion of, a passage 106 that extends between an inlet 107 and an outlet 108 at opposing ends of the consumable 103. In this respect, the passage comprises an upstream end at the end of the consumable 103 that engages with the main body 102, and a downstream end at an opposing end of the consumable 103 that comprises a mouthpiece 109 of the system 101. When the consumable 103 is engaged with the main body 102, a user can inhale (i.e. take a puff) via the mouthpiece 109 so as to draw air through the passage 106, and so as to form an airflow (indicated by arrows) in a direction from the inlet 107 to the outlet 108 of the passage 106. Although not illustrated, the passage 106 may be partially defined by a tube (e.g. a metal tube) extending through the consumable 103. The passage 106 is in fluid communication with a gap defined between the consumable 103 and the main body 102 (when engaged) such that air outside of the system 101 is drawn into the passage 106 (during an inhale).

[0082] The smoking substitute system 101 is configured to vaporise the e-liquid 104 for inhalation by a user. To provide this, the consumable 103 comprises a heater having of a porous wick 110 and a resistive heating element in the form of a heating filament 111 that is helically wound around a portion of the porous wick 110. The porous wick 110 extends across the passage 106 (i.e. transverse to a longitudinal axis of the passage106) and opposing ends of the wick 110 extend into the tank 105 (so as to be submerged in the e-liquid 104). In this way, e-liquid 104 contained in the tank 105 is conveyed from the opposing ends of the porous wick 110 to a central portion of the porous wick 110 so as to be exposed to the airflow in the passage 106 (i.e. caused by a user inhaling).

[0083] The helical filament 111 is wound about this exposed central portion of the porous wick 110 and is electrically connected to an electrical interface in the form of electrical contacts 112 mounted at the end of the consumable that is proximate the main body 102 (when engaged). When the consumable 103 is engaged with the main body 102, the electrical contacts 112 contact corresponding electrical contacts (not shown) of the main body 102. The main body electrical contacts are electrically connected to a power source (not shown) of the main body 102, such that (in the engaged position) the filament 111 is electrically connected to the power source. In this way, power can be supplied by the main body 102 to the filament 111 in order to heat the filament 111. This heat is transferred from the filament 111 to the porous wick 110 which causes e-liquid 104 conveyed by the porous wick 110 to increase in temperature to a point at which it vaporises. The vaporised e-liquid becomes entrained in the airflow and, between the vaporisation point at the filament 111 and the outlet 108 of the passage 106, condenses to form an aerosol. This aerosol is then inhaled, via the mouthpiece 109, by a user of the system 101.

[0084] The power source of the main body 102 may be in the form of a battery (e.g. a rechargeable battery). The main body 102 may comprise a connector in the form of e.g. a USB port for recharging this battery. The main body 102 may also comprise a controller that controls the supply of power from the power source to the main body electrical contacts (and thus to the filament 111). That, is the controller may be configured to control a voltage applied across the main body electrical contacts, and thus the voltage applied across the filament 111. In this way, the filament 111 may only be heated under certain conditions (e.g. during a puff and/or only when the system is in an active state). In this respect, the main body 102 may include a puff sensor (not shown) that is configured to detect a puff (i.e. inhalation). The puff sensor may be operatively connected to the controller so as to be able to provide a signal, to the controller, which is indicative of a puff state (i.e. puffing or not puffing). The puff sensor may, for example, be in the form of a pressure sensor or an acoustic sensor.

[0085] Although not shown, the main body 102 and consumable 103 may comprise a further interface which may, for example, be in the form of an RFID reader, a barcode or QR code reader. This interface may be able to identify a characteristic (e.g. a type) of a consumable 103 engaged with the main body 102. In this respect, the consumable 103 may include any one or more of an RFID chip, a barcode or QR code, or memory within which is an identifier and which can be interrogated via the interface.

[0086] The mouthpiece 109 of the consumable 103 includes a textured outer surface 120 which is arranged to receive a liquid flavourant and distribute the liquid flavourant across the textured outer surface 120. In the example shown, the textured outer surface 120 includes a plurality of criss-crossing channels. The channels are formed as fine grooves in the outer surface of the mouthpiece 109. Liquid flavourant applied to textured outer surface 120 may be retained in the channels due to surface tension of the liquid flavourant in the channels, and may be distributed across the textured outer surface 120 via capillary action of the liquid flavourant in the channels. In this manner, when a drop of liquid flavourant is applied to the textured outer surface 120, the liquid flavourant may be distributed over an area corresponding to the textured outer surface 120. The textured outer surface 120 is disposed adjacent to the outlet 108 of the mouthpiece, so that it may come into contact with the user's tongue in use. In this manner, liquid flavourant held on the textured outer surface 120 may produce a flavour in the user's mouth.

[0087] Figure 2 shows a schematic side view of a smoking substitute apparatus, in the form of consumable 200 according to an embodiment of the invention. The consumable 200 may be similar in configuration to the mouthpiece 103 described above, e.g. it may be configured for engagement with a main body to form a smoking substitute system. The consumable 200 includes a mouthpiece 202 having an outlet 204 for conveying an aerosol generated by the smoking substitute system to a user. Adjacent to the outlet 204 is a textured outer surface 206 for receiving a liquid flavourant.

[0088] The textured outer surface 206 includes a plurality of channels formed as fine grooves in the outer surface of the mouthpiece 202. The plurality of channels includes a first set of channels 208 which are arranged in parallel and oriented along a first direction that is substantially perpendicular to a flow direction of aerosol through the outlet 204 of the mouthpiece 202. The direction of flow of aerosol through the outlet 204 is illustrated by arrow 210, and corresponds to a longitudinal direction of the consumable 200. The first set of channels 208 are interconnected by a longitudinal channel 212 which extends in the longitudinal direction of the consumable 200, i.e. the first set of channels 208 are in fluid communication via the longitudinal channel 212. The textured outer surface 206 further includes a fluid receiving portion 214 which is arranged at an intersection between the longitudinal channel 212 and a first one of the first set of channels 208. The fluid receiving portion 214 may be a shallow cavity or recess formed in the outer surface of the mouthpiece 202. The fluid receiving portion 214 is in fluid communication with the longitudinal channel 212 and the first one of the first set of channels 208.

[0089] The longitudinal channel 212 and the channels in the first set of channels 208 may be similar to the channels described above in relation to the textured outer surface 120. In particular, they are arranged to receive a liquid flavourant, and to wick liquid flavourant along their length through capillary action. Liquid flavourant deposited in the fluid receiving portion 214 may be wicked out of the fluid receiving portion 214 and into the plurality of channels. The longitudinal channel 212 may serve to convey liquid flavourant from the fluid receiving portion to each of the first set of channels 208. Thus, liquid flavourant may be substantially evenly distributed throughout the plurality of channels. In this manner, liquid flavourant deposited in the flavourant receiving portion 214 may be distributed throughout the plurality of channels (including the longitudinal channel 212 and the first set of channels). Thus, a user may only need apply liquid flavourant to the fluid receiving portion 214. The textured outer surface 206 may provide a large area containing flavourant which may come into contact with the user's mouth (e.g. tongue), which may enable effective delivery of flavourant to the user.

[0090] In use, the consumable may typically be held so that the longitudinal direction of the consumable 200 (i.e. the direction indicated by arrow 210) is tilted along a downwards angle. As the first set of channels 208 is substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the consumable 200, this may serve to prevent liquid flavourant in the first set of channels 208 from dripping downwards, which could cause liquid flavourant to drip off the mouthpiece 202. This may avoid liquid flavourant coming into contact with electrical components in the smoking substitute apparatus. As only one longitudinal channel 208 is provided, a comparatively small amount of liquid flavourant may be held in the longitudinal channel 208 relative to the first set of channels 208. This may reduce the risk of flavourant liquid dripping out of the longitudinal channel 208.

[0091] Figure 3 illustrates a series of different textured outer surfaces that may be included in a mouthpiece 300 according to the invention. The mouthpiece 300 forms part of a consumable 302, which may be similar in configuration to the consumable 103 described above.

[0092] As illustrated in window 304 of Figure 3, the mouthpiece 300 may have a textured outer surface comprising a plurality of randomly arranged protrusions. The randomly arranged protrusions form a series of channels (gaps) between them, the channels being dimensioned to wick liquid flavourant deposited on the surface of the mouthpiece 300. In this manner, liquid flavourant may be substantially evenly distributed across a surface of the mouthpiece 300.

[0093] Alternatively, as illustrated in window 306 of Figure 3, the mouthpiece 300 may have a textured outer surface comprising a regular array of protrusions. In the example shown, the protrusions are substantially cylindrical in shape. The array of protrusions forms a series of channels between the protrusions, the channels being dimensioned to wick liquid flavourant deposited on the surface of the mouthpiece 300. In this manner, liquid flavourant may be substantially evenly distributed across a surface of the mouthpiece 300.

[0094] As another example, as shown in window 308 of Figure 3, the mouthpiece 300 may include a series of criss-crossing channels which are formed as grooves in the outer surface of the mouthpiece 300. The criss-crossing channels are formed by a first set of parallel channels oriented along a first direction, and a second set of parallel channels oriented along a second direction perpendicular to the first direction. In this manner, the criss-crossing channels form a grid on the outer surface of the mouthpiece 300. In this manner, liquid flavourant may be wicked along the channels in the first and second directions, to provide a substantially even distribution of liquid flavourant over an area of the mouthpiece.

[0095] Figures 4A-4C show schematic cross-sectional views of a flavourant dispenser 400 according to an embodiment of the invention. The flavourant dispenser 400 may be used to dispense flavourant onto a mouthpiece of a smoking substitute apparatus, for flavour delivery to a user.

[0096] The flavourant dispenser 400 includes a reservoir 402 for holding a liquid flavourant 404. The reservoir 402 is disposed in an outer housing 418 of the flavourant dispenser 400, the outer housing 418 forming a sidewall of the reservoir 402. The flavourant dispenser further includes a dispensing portion 406 for dispensing liquid flavourant from the reservoir 402. The dispensing portion 406 includes an outlet 408 through which liquid flavourant 404 may be dispensed, and a ball valve 410. The ball valve 410 is movable between a closed position in which the ball valve 410 blocks the outlet 408 (Figures 4A, 4C), and an open position where the ball valve 410 does not block the outlet 408 (Figure 4B), so that liquid flavourant 404 from the reservoir can exit via the outlet 408. The outlet 408 is defined by a ring 409, in which the ball valve 410 is held when it is in the closed position.

[0097] The ball valve 410 is mounted on a plate 412 disposed in the outer housing 418, the plate 412 forming a first end of the reservoir 402 adjacent the dispensing portion 406. The plate 412 is movable with the ball valve 410 between the open and closed positions. The plate includes a series of apertures 413. When the ball valve 410 is in the closed position, the plate 412 abuts against a surface of the ring 409, so that the apertures 413 are blocked. When the ball valve 410 is in the open position, the plate 412 is spaced from the ring 409, so that the apertures 413 are no longer blocked, and liquid flavourant 404 from the reservoir can exit the flavourant dispenser via the apertures 413 and the outlet 408.

[0098] The flavourant dispenser 400 further includes a piston 414 mounted in the outer housing 418 of the flavourant dispenser 400, such that the piston 414 forms a second end of the reservoir 402, opposite the first end of the reservoir 402. The piston 414 is movable within the reservoir 402 along a longitudinal direction of the reservoir 402. A spring 416 is mounted between an outer housing 418 of the flavourant dispenser 400 and the piston 414, and arranged to push the piston 414 towards the outlet 408. In this manner, liquid flavourant 404 in the reservoir is urged towards the outlet 408 by the piston 414, under a biasing force of the spring 416. This causes the plate 412 to be pressed against the surface of the ring 409, so that the ball valve 410 blocks the outlet 408 and the apertures 413 are blocked by the surface of the ring 409. Thus, the spring 416 biases the ball valve 408 towards the closed position. This may prevent liquid flavourant 404 from leaking out of the flavourant dispenser 400 when the dispenser is not in use. The outer housing 418 further includes an aperture 420 arranged to allow pressure equalisation inside the housing 418 due to movement of the piston 414.

[0099] The flavourant dispenser 400 is designed for use with a mouthpiece 426. In particular, the flavourant dispenser 400 is configured to dispense flavourant 404 onto the mouthpiece 426 when the mouthpiece 428 is brought into engagement with the flavourant dispenser 400, as described below.

[0100] The mouthpiece 426 may, for example, be similar to mouthpiece 109 described above. For illustration purposes, only a portion of the mouthpiece 426 is shown in Figures 4A-4C. The mouthpiece 426 may be mounted on, or form part of, a smoking substitute apparatus. The mouthpiece 426 includes an engagement portion 428 which includes a plurality of sidewalls 430 arranged in a ring around a central protrusion 432. Figures 5A and 5B show top views of possible configurations of the engagement portion 428. Figure 5A shows a top view of an engagement portion 428a including a plurality of sidewalls 430a arranged in a circular ring around central protrusion 432a. As can be seen, some of the sidewalls 430a have different thicknesses. Gaps 434a are formed between adjacent sidewalls 430a. Figure 5B shows a top view of an engagement portion 428b including a plurality of sidewalls 430b arranged in a hexagonal ring around central protrusion 432b. As can be seen, some of the sidewalls 430b have different thicknesses. Gaps 434b are formed between adjacent sidewalls 430b.

[0101] The dispensing portion 406 of the flavourant dispenser 400 includes a set of recesses 422 defined between the ring 409 and a sidewall 424 of the outer housing 418. The recesses 422 are arranged to receive the engagement portion 428 of the mouthpiece 426. In particular, the recesses 422 are arranged to receive the plurality of sidewalls 430 of the engagement portion 428 of the mouthpiece 426. The set of recesses 422 may be shaped and arranged to receive a specific engagement portion 428, e.g. engagement portion 428a or 428b. Thus, for instance, the recesses 422 may be arranged in a circular or a hexagonal ring, and the set of recesses 422 may include recesses having different widths to accommodate sidewalls 430 having different widths. The ring 409 is configured to receive the central protrusion 432 when the sidewalls 430 are engaged in the recesses 422.

[0102] The dispensing portion 406 is arranged such that, when the sidewalls 430 are received in the recesses 422, the sidewalls 430 abut against the plate 412 to press the plate 412 away from the ring 409. This enables flavourant to flow through the apertures 413 in the plate 412 and through the outlet 408, so that flavourant may be dispensed. In this manner, engagement between the dispensing portion 406 and the engagement portion 428 on the mouthpiece 426 causes flavourant 404 to be dispensed from the flavourant dispenser 400.

[0103] As a result of the arrangement of the set of recesses 422, the dispensing portion 426 is configured for engagement with a mouthpiece having a specifically arranged engagement portion. In some cases, the dispensing portion 426 and engagement portion of the mouthpiece may be arranged so that the dispensing portion 426 and the engagement portion can only be engaged when they are in a specific orientation. In this manner, the engagement portion of the mouthpiece may be considered as a key which is arranged for engagement with the dispensing portion.

[0104] We will now describe a process of dispensing flavourant onto the mouthpiece 426 using flavourant dispenser 400, with reference to Figures 4A-4C.

[0105] In Figure 4A, the ball valve 410 is in the closed position and the reservoir 402 contains liquid flavourant 404. The ball valve 410 is maintained in the closed position, via the piston 414 which presses the liquid flavourant 404 against the plate 412, under action of the spring 416. The flavourant dispenser 400 is approached towards the engagement portion 428 of the mouthpiece 426, as indicated by arrow 440.

[0106] In Figure 4B, the dispensing portion 406 of the flavourant dispenser 400 is engaged with the engagement portion 428 of the mouthpiece 426. In particular, the sidewalls 430 of the engagement portion 428 are received in the recesses 422 of the dispensing portion 406, and the central protrusion 432 is received in the ring 409. In this configuration, the sidewalls 430 abut against the plate 412 so that the plate 412 is spaced apart from the ring 409. As a result, the ball valve 410 is lifted out of the ring 409 so that the outlet 408 is no longer blocked, and the apertures 413 in the plate 412 are no longer blocked by the surface of the ring 409. Accordingly, liquid flavourant 404 may flow out of the reservoir 402 via the apertures 413 and the outlet 408.

[0107] When the dispensing portion 406 is engaged with the engagement portion 428 of the mouthpiece 426, the sidewalls 430 of the engagement portion 428 and the sidewall 424 of the outer housing 418 together define a receptacle (cavity) into which liquid flavourant 404 dispensed by the dispensing portion 406 is received. In particular, the sidewall 424 of the outer housing 418 may serve to prevent liquid flavourant 404 from escaping via gaps 434a, 434b between the sidewalls 430 of the engagement portion. Thus, whilst the dispensing portion 406 is engaged with the engagement portion 428, dispensed liquid flavourant may be contained within the sidewalls 430. The receptacle defined by the sidewalls 430 and sidewall 424 may have a predetermined volume, so that only a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant 404 may be dispensed when the dispensing portion 406 is engaged with the engagement portion 428.

[0108] After liquid flavourant 404 has been dispensed by the dispensing portion 406, the dispensing portion 406 may be disengaged from the mouthpiece, as shown in Figure 4C and indicated by arrow 442. In this configuration, the ball valve 410 once again returns to the closed position due to the pressure exerted by the spring 416. A volume 438 of liquid flavourant 404 corresponding to the predetermined volume dispensed by the dispensing portion 406 is left on the mouthpiece 426. As the sidewall 424 of the outer housing 418 no longer blocks the gaps 434a, 434b between the sidewalls 430 of the engagement portion 428, the volume 438 of liquid flavourant may spread over a surface of the mouthpiece 426. For example, if the mouthpiece includes a textured outer surface, the textured outer surface may serve to distribute the volume 438 of liquid flavourant over an area of the mouthpiece 426.

[0109] Accordingly, the flavourant dispenser 400 may serve to dispense a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant 404 onto the surface of the mouthpiece 426 in a controlled manner. Specificity between the dispensing portion 406 and the engagement portion 428 of the mouthpiece 426 may ensure that the flavourant dispenser 400 is only used to dispense liquid flavourant onto the mouthpiece 426. This may prevent accidental dispensing of liquid flavourant, or dispensing of liquid flavourant on devices which are not intended for use with the flavourant dispenser 400.

[0110] In some embodiments, the mouthpiece 426 and flavourant dispenser 400 may be provided as a kit.

[0111] The features disclosed in the foregoing description, or in the following claims, or in the accompanying drawings, expressed in their specific forms or in terms of a means for performing the disclosed function, or a method or process for obtaining the disclosed results, as appropriate, may, separately, or in any combination of such features, be utilised for realising the invention in diverse forms thereof.

[0112] While the invention has been described in conjunction with the exemplary embodiments described above, many equivalent modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art when given this disclosure. Accordingly, the exemplary embodiments of the invention set forth above are considered to be illustrative and not limiting. Various changes to the described embodiments may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

[0113] For the avoidance of any doubt, any theoretical explanations provided herein are provided for the purposes of improving the understanding of a reader. The inventors do not wish to be bound by any of these theoretical explanations.

[0114] Any section headings used herein are for organizational purposes only and are not to be construed as limiting the subject matter described.

[0115] Throughout this specification, including the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the words "have", "comprise", and "include", and variations such as "having", "comprises", "comprising", and "including" will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps.

[0116] It must be noted that, as used in the specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Ranges may be expressed herein as from "about" one particular value, and/or to "about" another particular value. When such a range is expressed, another embodiment includes from the one particular value and/or to the other particular value. Similarly, when values are expressed as approximations, by the use of the antecedent "about," it will be understood that the particular value forms another embodiment. The term "about" in relation to a numerical value is optional and means, for example, +/- 10%.

[0117] The words "preferred" and "preferably" are used herein refer to embodiments of the invention that may provide certain benefits under some circumstances. It is to be appreciated, however, that other embodiments may also be preferred under the same or different circumstances. The recitation of one or more preferred embodiments therefore does not mean or imply that other embodiments are not useful, and is not intended to exclude other embodiments from the scope of the disclosure, or from the scope of the claims.


Claims

1. A mouthpiece for a smoking substitute apparatus, the mouthpiece comprising:

an outlet for conveying an aerosol generated by the smoking substitute apparatus to a user; and

a textured outer surface configured to receive a liquid flavourant and distribute the liquid flavourant over the textured outer surface through capillary action of the liquid flavourant on the textured outer surface.


 
2. A mouthpiece according to claim 1, wherein the textured outer surface includes a plurality of channels arranged to conduct the liquid flavourant through capillary action of the liquid flavourant in the channels.
 
3. A mouthpiece according to claim 2, wherein the textured outer surface includes a plurality of protrusions arranged to form the plurality of channels.
 
4. A mouthpiece according to claim 2 or 3, wherein the plurality of channels includes a first set of channels arranged in parallel along a first direction.
 
5. A mouthpiece according to claim 4, wherein the first direction is substantially perpendicular to a flow direction of aerosol through the outlet of the mouthpiece.
 
6. A mouthpiece according to claim 4 or 5, wherein the plurality of channels includes a second set of channels arranged in parallel along a second direction different from the first direction, the second set of channels intersecting the first set of capillary channels.
 
7. A mouthpiece according to one of claims 2 to 6, wherein the textured outer surface includes a fluid receiving portion for receiving the liquid flavourant, the fluid receiving portion being fluidly connected to the plurality of channels.
 
8. A mouthpiece according to any preceding claim, including an absorbent material for absorbing liquid flavourant.
 
9. A mouthpiece according to any preceding claim, further including an engagement portion arranged to engage a dispensing portion on a flavourant dispenser.
 
10. A mouthpiece according to claim 9, wherein the engagement portion of the mouthpiece includes a wall that is arranged to define part of a receptacle on the mouthpiece for receiving liquid flavourant from the flavourant dispenser.
 
11. A smoking substitute apparatus including a mouthpiece according to any preceding claim.
 
12. A flavourant dispenser for dispensing liquid flavourant onto an outer surface of a mouthpiece of a smoking substitute apparatus, the flavourant dispenser comprising:

a reservoir for holding a liquid flavourant; and

a dispensing portion arranged to engage the outer surface of the mouthpiece and to dispense a predetermined volume of liquid flavourant from the reservoir onto the outer surface of the mouthpiece when the dispensing portion engages the outer surface of the mouthpiece.


 
13. A flavourant dispenser according to claim 12, wherein:

the dispensing portion includes a valve that is openable to dispense liquid flavourant from the reservoir;

the dispensing portion is arranged to engage an engagement portion of the outer surface of the mouthpiece; and

the valve is opened by engagement between the dispensing portion and the engagement portion on the outer surface of the mouthpiece.


 
14. A flavourant dispenser according to claim 13, wherein the dispensing portion includes a wall arranged to form part of a receptacle for receiving liquid flavourant when the dispensing portion of the flavourant dispenser is engaged with the engagement portion of the mouthpiece.
 
15. A smoking substitute kit including:

a smoking substitute apparatus according to claim 11; and

a flavourant dispenser according to one of claims 12 to 14.


 
16. A method of delivering flavour to a user of a smoking substitute apparatus, the method including:

applying a liquid flavourant to an outer surface of a mouthpiece of the smoking substitute apparatus;

using, by the user, the smoking substitute apparatus.


 




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