Smoking is bad for you, and even the health benefits around e-cigarette use is increasingly sketchy. But whatever -- we've all got our vices, and we all want as fair a deal as possible when we do decide to indulge them. Which is what makes this patent from Philip Morris International so ridiculous.
It describes a USB electronic cigarette that essentially charges you to pay-as-you-smoke. You've already bought the e-cigarette itself, and maybe even the cartridges for the system they describe. But for the thing to work, you'd have to connect up your e-cig to a tablet, computer or phone over USB and buy smoking time or credits. Essentially, you'd be paying to switch on the battery inside your vaping device.
Elsewhere, the patent describes an e-cigarette system that would take small cigarette-shaped cartridges, which would heat up inside the vaping stick, turning the cartridge's nicotine into vapour. The stick could also take regular tobacco too.
Why anyone would sign themselves up to such a device is unclear at the moment. Presumably you'd get the nicotine cartridges for free, with the "smoking time" what you have to pay for instead. Either way, the thought of a cigarette app store is one I'd rather not have to consider. [Improbable]