Title:
Smoking Article Dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A smoking article dispenser (100) comprises a dispenser housing configured to receive a cartridge (150) of smoking articles. The dispenser housing interior is configured with elements to dispense a smoking article when the cartridge is actuated between a first and second position. In addition, a cartridge for use with such a dispenser, such a dispenser in combination with such a cartridge and a method of operating such a dispenser.



Inventors:
Papaloizou, Antoni (London, GB)
Wasserman, Josh (London, GB)
Application Number:
13/146918
Publication Date:
02/02/2012
Filing Date:
12/23/2009
Assignee:
PAPALOIZOU ANTONI
WASSERMAN JOSH
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/273, 206/250
International Classes:
B65D83/02; A24F15/14; B65D85/10
View Patent Images:
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Foreign References:
FR939917A1948-11-29
GB371982A1932-05-05
Primary Examiner:
MACKEY, PATRICK HEWEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCKEE, VOORHEES & SEASE, P.L.C. (DES MOINES, IA, US)
Claims:
1. A smoking article dispenser comprising: a dispenser housing to receive a cartridge of smoking articles; a dispenser housing interior, the dispenser housing interior having dispensing elements wherein the dispensing elements dispense a smoking article when the cartridge is actuated between a first and second position.

2. The smoking article dispenser of claim 1, further comprising: a chassis to engage the cartridge, index and dispense smoking articles situated in the cartridge.

3. The smoking article dispenser of claim 1, wherein the dispenser housing includes a depressible lateral end wall portion that engages and shifts the cartridge between the first and second positions.

4. The smoking article dispenser of claim 3, further comprising a linking element operatively connected with the depressible lateral end wall portion.

5. The smoking article dispenser of claim 4, wherein the linking element is also operatively connected to actuate a lifting arm between a smoking article engagement position and a smoking article dispensing position.

6. The smoking article dispenser of claim 2, wherein the chassis includes a plurality of cartridge engagement ribs to index and advance the smoking articles within the cartridge.

7. The smoking article dispenser of claim 6, wherein lateral side walls of the chassis are formed with the cartridge engagement ribs.

8. The smoking article dispenser of claim 6, further comprising a cartridge to receive smoking articles, wherein the cartridge further comprises a smoking article indexing piston.

9. The smoking article dispenser of claim 8, wherein the smoking article indexing piston interacts with the cartridge engagement ribs to index and advance the smoking articles in the cartridge as the cartridge shifts between the first and second position.

10. The smoking article dispenser of claim 9, wherein the smoking article indexing piston includes side wings that extend through apertures formed in the smoking article cartridge to engage the cartridge engagement ribs.

11. The smoking article dispenser of claim 1, wherein the dispenser housing has a resealable dispensing aperture.

12. The smoking article dispenser of claim 11, further comprising a displaceable aperture cover portion.

13. The smoking article dispenser of claim 12, wherein the displaceable aperture cover portion is configured to be actuated between a first position covering the resealable dispensing aperture and a second position uncovering the resealable dispensing aperture as a lateral wall portion of the dispenser is depressed.

14. The smoking article dispenser of claim 13, further comprising a cartridge to receive smoking articles, the cartridge comprising a smoking article indexing piston, and smoking article advancement stops formed as a plurality of ridges on an interior surface of the cartridge.

15. The smoking article dispenser of claim 13, further comprising a cartridge to receive smoking articles, the cartridge further comprising a smoking article indexing piston, and a plurality of smoking article advancement stops formed as a plurality of saw tooth elements on an interior surface of the cartridge.

16. A dispenser comprising a chassis defining a chamber to receive a cartridge of smoking articles having an opening for discharge of said smoking articles from the cartridge, wherein when the cartridge is received in the chamber and slid relative to the chassis together with the smoking articles in a first direction, the chassis cooperates with the cartridge to allow return movement of the cartridge relative to the smoking articles in the opposite direction, thereby discharging a smoking article from the opening in the cartridge to enable it to be dispensed from the dispenser.

17. The dispenser according to claim 16, further comprising a biasing element wherein movement of the cartridge received in the chassis, together with the smoking articles within the cartridge, relative to the chassis in said first direction is against a force provided by the biasing element so that the cartridge returns in the opposite direction relative to the smoking articles upon release.

18. The dispenser according to claim 17, further comprising a smoking article receiving element slidable together with the cartridge received in the chassis, wherein said receiving element receives a smoking article discharged from the cartridge through said opening in the cartridge when the cartridge and the receiving element move relative to the smoking articles in said opposite direction.

19. The dispenser according to claim 18, further comprising a dispensing aperture in the chassis, wherein movement of the smoking article receiving element in said opposite direction moves said receiving element into a position in which a smoking article received in said receiving element is aligned with said dispensing aperture.

20. The dispenser according to claim 19, wherein the receiving element moves together with the smoking article received in the receiving element into a position in which said received smoking article is aligned with said dispensing aperture.

21. The dispenser according to claim 19, wherein the chassis has first and second ends and the chamber is configured to receive a cartridge of smoking articles wherein the longitudinal axis of each smoking article extends between said first and second ends, the cartridge being slidable within the chassis in a lateral direction extending substantially perpendicular to said longitudinal axis of said smoking articles to discharge a smoking article from the opening in the cartridge into the receiving element in said lateral direction.

22. The dispenser according to claim 21, wherein the dispensing aperture is formed in a first end of the chassis wherein a smoking article received in the receiving element is aligned with the dispensing aperture in a longitudinal direction.

23. The dispenser according to claim 22, further comprising a lifting mechanism to push an aligned smoking article in said longitudinal direction out of the receiving element through the aperture in the first end of the chassis.

24. The dispenser according to claim 23, wherein the lifting mechanism actuates in response to movement of the cartridge in said opposite direction.

25. The dispenser according to claim 24, wherein the lifting mechanism includes a lifting member to contact a lower end of the aligned smoking article and a lever that cooperates with said lifting member to lift said lifting member when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction.

26. The dispenser according to claim 25, further comprising a slot in the receiving element, said lifting member being slideably received in said slot for movement towards and away from said dispensing aperture.

27. The dispenser according to claim 25, wherein said lifting member has a pair of parallel pins spaced from each other in said longitudinal direction and the lever comprises an arm having one end that is slideably received between said pins.

28. The dispenser according to claim 27, wherein the lever is pivotally mounted to the chassis at the other end of the arm and comprises an actuating element for rotating the lever about the pivot to lift said lifting member.

29. The dispenser according to claim 28, further comprising a post on the chassis and a hook at said other end of the arm that extends around the post to pivotally mount the lever to the chassis, said actuating element being formed at the free end of the hook.

30. The dispenser according to claim 28, further comprising a track on the chassis, said actuating element extending across said track.

31. The dispenser according to claim 30, wherein a follower is slideably received in the track, said follower movable relative to the chassis along said track during movement of the cartridge relative to the chassis.

32. The dispenser according to claim 31, wherein the track forms a complete circuit wherein the follower returns to its starting position having travelled the full length of the track.

33. The dispenser according to claim 32, wherein the follower engages the actuating element in the track and further movement of the follower along said track rotates said lever to lift the lifting element and push an aligned smoking article in the longitudinal direction through the aperture.

34. The dispenser according to claim 33, wherein, following rotation of the lever, the follower rides over the actuating element back into its start position wherein the lever at least partially rotates under its own weight in the opposite direction to lower the lifting member.

35. The dispenser according to claim 34, wherein the follower engages the actuating element as it moves along the track at the beginning of a subsequent movement of the cartridge in a direction to rotate the partially rotated lever further in said opposite direction to completely lower the lifting member.

36. The dispenser according to claim 16, further comprising a cover to cover an open end of the chassis through which the cartridge can be inserted into the chassis.

37. The dispenser according to claim 36, wherein the cover forms a user-operable button to which pressure is applied to move the cartridge relative to the chassis.

38. The dispenser according to claim 16, further comprising an outer casing surrounding the chassis and having an aperture therein to correspond with a dispensing aperture in the chassis for the passage of smoking articles therethrough.

39. The dispenser according to claim 16, wherein the cartridge to contain smoking articles is removably positionable within the chassis and has an opening for the discharge of said smoking articles from the cartridge.

40. The dispenser according to claim 39, wherein the cartridge comprises a piston that moves together with the cartridge in said first direction.

41. The dispenser according to claim 40, further comprising a ratchet mechanism that permits return movement of the cartridge relative to said piston and to smoking articles contained in the cartridge.

42. The dispenser according to claim 41, wherein the ratchet mechanism comprises a flexible pawl on the piston that protrudes through an opening in the cartridge, and a series of spaced, fixed cooperating elements formed on the chassis, wherein the flexible pawl flexes and passes over a fixed cooperating element on the chassis when the piston moves together with the cartridge in said first direction, said flexible pawl binding against said fixed cooperating elements to prevent movement of the piston when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction.

43. The dispenser according to claim 42, wherein the fixed cooperating elements are spaced by at least the diameter of the smoking article contained in the cartridge wherein the cartridge moves relative to the piston by a distance sufficient to enable the smoking article to be discharged from the cartridge.

44. The dispenser according to claim 40, further comprising cooperating members between the piston and the cartridge to retain the piston in a fixed position relative to the cartridge as the cartridge moves in the first direction.

45. The dispenser according to claim 44, wherein the cooperating members comprise a series of ribs on the cartridge and a flexible tip on the piston, wherein the flexible tip flexes and passes over a rib when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction relative to the piston, and wherein said flexible tip binds against a rib to prevent movement of the piston relative to the cartridge in the first direction.

46. The cartridge for the dispenser which comprises a chassis according to claim 16, the cartridge comprising a housing having side walls and an open end for the discharge of smoking articles from the cartridge, and a piston slideably received in the cartridge, the piston comprising a flexible pawl extending through an opening in a side wall for engagement with corresponding cooperating elements in the chassis.

47. The cartridge according to claim 46, wherein a flexible tab extends from a side wall across the open end to prevent smoking articles from falling out through said open end prior to insertion into the dispenser.

48. The cartridge according to claim 46, comprising cooperating members between the piston and the cartridge to prevent the piston from moving relative to the cartridge in a direction away from said open end.

49. The cartridge according to claim 48, wherein the cooperating members comprise a series of ribs on the cartridge and a flexible tip on the piston, wherein the flexible tip flexes and passes over a rib when the piston moves within the cartridge in a direction towards the open end of the cartridge, and wherein said flexible tip binds against a rib to prevent movement of the piston relative to the cartridge in the direction away from said open end.

50. A method of operating a dispenser comprising a chassis defining a chamber and a cartridge of smoking articles received in the chamber and having an opening for discharge of said smoking articles from the cartridge, the method comprising sliding the cartridge relative to the chassis together with the smoking articles in a first direction, the chassis cooperating with the cartridge to allow return movement of the cartridge relative to the smoking articles in the opposite direction, and discharging a smoking article from the opening in the cartridge to enable the smoking article to be dispensed from the dispenser.

51. The method according to claim 50 wherein the dispenser includes a biasing element, the method further comprising moving the cartridge together with the smoking articles relative to the chassis in said first direction against a force provided by the biasing element and the cartridge returning in the opposite direction relative to the smoking articles upon release.

52. The method according to claim 51 wherein the dispenser comprises a receiving element slideable together with the cartridge, the method further comprising a smoking article discharged from the cartridge though said opening being received in said receiving element when the cartridge and the receiving element move relative to the smoking articles in said opposite direction.

53. The method according to claim 52 wherein the dispenser comprises a dispensing aperture in the chassis, the method further comprising moving said receiving element into a position in which a smoking article received in said receiving element is aligned with said dispensing aperture when the smoking article receiving is moved in said opposite direction.

54. The method according to claim 53 further comprising moving the receiving element together with the smoking article received in the receiving element into the position in which said received smoking article is aligned with said dispensing aperture.

55. The method according to claim 53 further comprising pushing the smoking article aligned with said dispensing aperture in a longitudinal direction out of the receiving element through the aperture in the chassis.

Description:

The present invention relates to a dispenser for smoking articles such as cigarettes and, more particularly, to a dispenser for smoking articles having a smoking article indexing and ejection mechanism.

Various dispensers of smoking articles are known in the art which comprise a portable housing and means to dispense a single smoking article at a time from the dispenser. However, such known dispensers suffer a number of drawbacks, including awkward, unreliable, cumbersome and/or complex dispensing mechanisms. Furthermore, conventional dispensers are generally configured such that a user has to manually load individual cigarettes one at a time. The present invention seeks to provide an improved dispenser for smoking articles which overcomes the drawbacks of the prior art.

In order to address the issues related to the prior art dispensers, a dispenser has been developed that includes a reloadable cartridge-based solution. The dispenser of the invention facilitates significant design flexibility and a variety of casings and smoking article cartridges may be implemented.

Accordingly, in an implementation, the present invention provides a smoking article dispenser comprising a dispenser housing configured to receive a cartridge of smoking articles, wherein the dispenser housing interior is configured with elements to dispense a smoking article when the cartridge is actuated between a first and second position.

The dispenser may further comprise a chassis configured to engage the cartridge, index and dispense smoking articles situated in the cartridge.

The dispenser housing may include a depressable lateral end wall portion that engages and shifts the cartridge between the first and second positions.

The dispenser may further comprise a linking element operatively connected with the depressable lateral end wall portion. The linking element may also be operatively connected to actuate a lifting arm between a smoking article engagement position and a smoking article dispensing position.

The chassis may include a plurality of cartridge engagement ribs configured to index and advance the smoking articles within the cartridge.

The lateral side walls of the chassis may be formed with the cartridge engagement ribs.

The dispenser may further comprise a cartridge to receive smoking articles, and the cartridge may further comprise a smoking article indexing piston, and the smoking article indexing piston may interact with the cartridge engagement ribs to index and advance the smoking articles in the cartridge as the cartridge shifts between the first and second positions. The smoking article indexing piston may include side wings configured to extend through apertures formed in the smoking article cartridge to engage the cartridge engagement ribs.

The dispenser housing may be configured with a resealable dispensing aperture

The dispenser may further comprise a displaceable aperture cover portion, which may be configured to be actuated between a first position covering the resealable dispensing aperture and a second position uncovering the resealable dispensing aperture as the lateral wall portion of the dispenser is depressed.

The cartridge may include smoking article advancement stops formed as a plurality of ridges on an interior surface of the cartridge. The cartridge may further include a plurality of smoking article advancement stops formed as a plurality of saw tooth elements on an interior surface of the cartridge.

In another implementation, the present invention provides a dispenser comprising a chassis defining a chamber to slideably receive a cartridge of smoking articles having an opening for discharge of said smoking articles from the cartridge, the chassis being configured such that when a cartridge is received in the chamber and slid relative to the chassis together with the smoking articles in a first direction, the chassis cooperates with the cartridge to allow return movement of the cartridge relative to the smoking articles in the opposite direction, thereby discharging a smoking article from the opening in the cartridge to enable it to be dispensed from the dispenser.

Preferably, the dispenser comprises a biasing element configured such that movement of the cartridge together with the smoking articles relative to the chassis in said first direction is against a force provided by the biasing element so that the cartridge returns in the opposite direction relative to the smoking articles upon release.

Preferably, the dispenser comprises a smoking article receiving element slideable together with a cartridge, said receiving element being configured to receive a smoking article discharged from a cartridge through said opening when the cartridge and the receiving element move relative to the smoking articles in said opposite direction.

Preferably, the dispenser may comprise a dispensing aperture in the chassis, the smoking article receiving element being configured such that movement in said opposite direction moves said receiving element into a position in which a smoking article received in said receiving element is aligned with said dispensing aperture.

The receiving element preferably moves together with the smoking article received in the receiving element into a position in which said received smoking article is aligned with said dispensing aperture.

The chassis preferably has first and second ends and the chamber is preferably configured to receive a cartridge of smoking articles such that the longitudinal axis of each smoking article extends between said first and second ends, the cartridge being slideable within the chassis in a lateral direction extending substantially perpendicular to said longitudinal axis of said smoking articles to discharge a smoking article from the opening in the cartridge into the receiving element in said lateral direction.

Preferably, the dispensing aperture is formed in the first end of the chassis such that a smoking article received in the receiving element is aligned with the dispensing aperture in a longitudinal direction.

The dispenser preferably comprises a lifting mechanism to push an aligned smoking article in a longitudinal direction out of the receiving element through the aperture in the first end of the chassis.

The lifting mechanism preferably actuates in response to movement of the cartridge in said opposite direction, and preferably includes a lifting element to contact a lower end of an aligned smoking article and a lever that cooperates with said lifting element to lift said element when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction.

The dispenser preferably comprises a slot in the receiving element, said lifting member preferably being slideably received in said slot for movement towards and away from said dispensing aperture.

Said lifting member preferably has a pair of parallel pins spaced from each other in said longitudinal direction and the lever comprises an arm having one end that is slideably received between said pins.

The lever is preferably pivotally mounted to the chassis at the other end of the arm and comprises an actuating element for rotating the lever about said pivot to lift said lifting member.

The dispenser preferably comprises a post on the chassis and a hook at said other end of the arm that extends around the post to pivotally mount the lever to the chassis, said actuating element being formed at the free end of the hook.

The dispenser preferably comprises a track on the chassis, said actuating element extending across said track.

A follower is preferably slideably received in the track and is preferably configured so that it moves relative to the chassis along said track during movement of the cartridge relative to the chassis.

Preferably, the track forms a complete circuit so that the follower returns to its starting position having travelled the full length of the track.

The follower preferably engages the actuating element towards the end of the track such that further movement of the follower along said track rotates said lever to lift the lifting element and push an aligned smoking article in a longitudinal direction through the aperture.

Preferably, following rotation of the lever, the follower rides over the actuating element back into its start position such that the lever at least partially rotates under its own weight in the opposite direction to lower the lifting member.

Preferably, the follower engages the actuating element as it moves along the track at the beginning of a subsequent movement of the cartridge in a first direction to rotate the partially rotated lever further in said opposite direction to completely lower the lifting member.

The dispenser preferably comprises a cover to cover an open end of the chassis through which a cartridge can be inserted into the chassis and the cover preferably forms a user-operable button to which pressure is applied to move the cartridge relative to the chassis.

The dispenser preferably comprises an outer casing surrounding the chassis and has an aperture therein to correspond with the dispensing aperture in the chassis for the passage of smoking articles therethrough.

The dispenser preferably includes a cartridge to contain smoking articles removably positionable within the chassis.

The cartridge preferably comprises a piston configured to move together with the cartridge in said first direction.

The dispenser preferably comprises a ratchet mechanism that permits return movement of the cartridge relative to said piston and smoking articles contained in the cartridge.

The ratchet mechanism preferably comprises a flexible pawl on the piston that protrudes through an opening in the cartridge, and a series of spaced, fixed cooperating elements formed on the chassis, wherein the flexible pawl flexes and passes over a fixed cooperating member on the chassis when the piston moves together with the cartridge in said first direction, said flexible pawl binding against said fixed cooperating member to prevent movement of the piston when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction.

Preferably, the fixed cooperating elements are spaced by at least the diameter of a smoking article contained in the cartridge such that the cartridge moves relative to the piston by a distance sufficient to enable a smoking article to be discharged from the cartridge.

The dispenser preferably comprises cooperating members between the piston and the cartridge to retain the piston in position relative to the cartridge as the cartridge moves in the first direction.

The cooperating members preferably comprise a series of ribs on the cartridge and a flexible tip on the piston, wherein the flexible tip flexes and passes over a rib when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction relative to the piston, and wherein said flexible tip binds against a rib to prevent movement of the piston relative to the cartridge in the first direction.

The present invention also provides a cartridge for a dispenser comprising a chassis, as described above, comprising a housing having side walls and an open end wall for the discharge of smoking articles from the cartridge, and a piston slideably received in the cartridge, the piston comprising a flexible pawl extending through an opening in the side wall for engagement with corresponding cooperating elements in the chassis.

Preferably, a flexible tab extends from a side wall across the open end wall to prevent smoking articles from falling out through said open end wall prior to insertion into a dispenser.

Preferably, the cartridge comprises cooperating members between the piston and the cartridge to retain the piston in position relative to the cartridge as the cartridge moves in the first direction.

The cooperating members preferably comprise a series of ribs on the cartridge and a flexible tip on the piston, wherein the flexible tip flexes and passes over a rib when the cartridge moves in said opposite direction relative to the piston, and wherein said flexible tip binds against a rib to prevent movement of the piston relative to the cartridge in the first direction.

The invention also provides a method of operating a dispenser comprising a chassis defining a chamber and a cartridge of smoking articles slidably received in the chamber and having an opening for discharge of said smoking articles from the cartridge, comprising sliding the cartridge relative to the chassis together with the smoking articles in a first direction, the chassis cooperating with the cartridge to allow return movement of the cartridge relative to the smoking articles in the opposite direction, and discharging a smoking article from the opening in the cartridge to enable it to be dispensed from the dispenser.

Preferably, the dispenser includes a biasing element configured, the method preferably including moving the cartridge together with the smoking articles relative to the chassis in said first direction against a force provided by the biasing element and the cartridge returning in the opposite direction relative to the smoking articles upon release.

Preferably, the dispenser includes a receiving element slideable together with a cartridge, the method preferably including a smoking article discharged from the cartridge through said opening being received in said receiving element when the cartridge and the receiving element move relative to the smoking articles in said opposite direction.

Preferably, the dispenser comprises a dispensing aperture in the chassis, the method preferably including moving said receiving element into a position in which a smoking article received in said receiving element is aligned with said dispensing aperture when the smoking article receiving is moved in said opposite direction.

The method preferably comprises moving the receiving element together with the smoking article received in the receiving element into a position in which said received smoking article is aligned with said dispensing aperture.

The method preferably further comprising pushing the aligned smoking article in a longitudinal direction out of the receiving element though an aperture in the chassis.

Depending on the implementation, the dispensing aperture and the dispensed smoking articles may be configured with complementary aperture/axial shapes. For example, the dispenser aperture may be configured as an oval, square, triangle or other shape particularly suited to dispense complementary shaped smoking articles.

Preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a front perspective view of a dispenser of the invention;

FIG. 2 shows an exploded front perspective view of the dispenser of FIG. 1 including a cartridge of the invention for use with the dispenser;

FIGS. 3A to 3D are sequential perspective views of the dispenser and cartridge of FIGS. 1 and 2 showing the stages of a dispensing operation with the internal features of the lifting arm visible;

FIGS. 4A to 4D are sequential perspective views of the dispenser and cartridge, similar to that of FIGS. 3A to 3D showing the stages of a dispensing operation, but with the internal features of the cartridge and chassis visible;

FIGS. 5A and 5B are a perspective views from each side of the outer casing of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4 with a respective side portion of the outer casing shown in dashed lines in each view;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the cartridge of the invention as shown in FIG. 2, for use in the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4, filled with a charge of cigarettes;

FIG. 7 is an exploded view of the cartridge of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a blank of the cartridge of FIGS. 6 and 7;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the blank of the cartridge of FIG. 8 with one side folded;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the blank of the cartridge of FIGS. 8 and 9 with both sides folded;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the blank of the cartridge of FIGS. 8 to 10 with both sides folded and the tabs forming the ratchet teeth on the top and bottom sides folded inwards;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the blank of the cartridge of FIG. 11 with the bottom side folded upwards to from the bottom face of the cartridge;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the blank of the cartridge of FIG. 12 with the top side folded downwards to form the top face of the cartridge;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the blank of the cartridge of FIG. 13 from the opposite side, with the end tab folded over;

FIG. 15 is a side view of the cartridge of FIG. 14 showing the ratchet teeth on the insides of the top and bottom faces in dashed lines;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a first portion of a piston of the cartridge;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a second portion of the piston of the cartridge;

FIGS. 18A and 18B are perspective views of the end door of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of a lifting arm of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIGS. 20A and 20B are perspective views of a lifting arm support member of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a receiver element of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of a lifting foot of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIG. 23 is a perspective view of a linkage of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a leaf spring of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4;

FIG. 25 is a side view showing internal details of the dispenser of FIGS. 1 to 4 but with an alternative cartridge of the invention in place of the first-described cartridge of FIGS. 6 to 17 of the invention;

FIG. 26 is side view of the alternative cartridge of the invention of FIG. 25 showing internal details but with the piston omitted;

FIG. 27 is a side view of the piston of the alternative cartridge of the FIGS. 25 and 26;

FIGS. 28A1 to 28D2 are a series of schematic sequential side views and corresponding plan views of a dispenser of the invention combined with the alternative cartridge of the invention showing the stages of a dispensing operation, with internal features visible; and

FIGS. 29A-29C are a series of schematic sequential plan views showing the movement of the piston within the alternative cartridge of in the invention.

Annex 1 and Annex 2 illustrate side/top views of additional aspects of components described above in a progression of component positions for indexing and dispensing smoking articles.

For the purposes of the exemplary embodiments shown and described herein, reference to smoking articles to be dispensed from the dispensers of the invention are described as ‘cigarettes’, but it should be understood that this term shall be taken as meaning any smoking article, not necessarily limited to cigarettes.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 to 24, a cigarette dispenser 100 of a first embodiment of the present invention is shown and includes an outer casing 110 and an end door 112 pivotably mounted to an open end 110a of the outer casing 110 to open and close the open end 110a of outer casing 110. The end door 112 is also slidably mounted to the outer casing 110 such that when the end door 112 is in the closed position and covers the open end 110a of the outer casing 110, it can slide into the outer casing 110 and thereby function as a user-operable button during operation of the dispenser 100, as will be described in more detail hereafter. The end door 112 includes hinge projections 112a (see FIG. 18B) which are received in a channel 110b (see FIG. 2) in the inside of the outer casing 110 to enable the sliding and pivoting movement described above.

The dispenser 100 includes a chassis 120 (see FIG. 2) within the outer casing 110 which defines a chamber configured to receive a cartridge 150 of cigarettes ‘S’. The chassis 120 and cartridge 150 are configured such that once a cartridge 150 is fully inserted into the chamber of the chassis 120, the cartridge 150 is slidable within the chassis 120 in a reciprocating movement.

The chassis 120 includes two side walls 124, and a top wall 126, a bottom wall 128 and an end wall 130 which together define the chamber. The chamber is open at one end 132 opposite the end wall 130 for the insertion of the cartridge 150 into the chamber. The top wall 126 includes a dispensing aperture 126a (see FIG. 2) through which cigarettes are dispensed from the dispenser 100. The outer casing 110 also includes a dispensing aperture 110c which is aligned with the dispensing aperture 126a of the chassis 120. Depending on the implementation, the dispensing aperture 110c in the outer casing 110 may be closed off by an actuatable cover element that keeps the cigarettes in the dispenser 100 fresh. In an implementation, such a cover may be actuated into an open position as the end door 112 is actuated by a user to dispense a cigarette S and is then closed after the cigarette has been dispensed.

The chassis 120 is retained within the outer casing 110 by means of a locking key 114 which extends from the outside of the outer casing 110, though an end wall thereof, and engages with a corresponding cooperating means 120a formed on the end wall 130 of the chassis 120. Such engagement may comprise a press-fit, snap-fit or any other suitable engagement means or element within the scope of the invention.

The inside face of each chassis side wall 124 includes a plurality of vertical ribs 134 (see FIGS. 2 and 25) protruding therefrom regularly spaced along the length of each chassis side wall 124. The spacing of each rib 134 corresponds approximately to the diameter of the cigarettes within a cartridge 150 which are to be dispensed from the dispenser 100.

An implementation of a cartridge 150 of the invention, for use with the dispenser 100, is shown in FIGS. 6 to 17, and is formed from a blank 152 of card (see FIG. 8) which is folded as shown in FIGS. 9 to 14. The cartridge 150 (shown assembled in FIG. 14) comprises two side walls 154, a top wall 156, a bottom wall 158 and an end wall 160 which together define a space within the cartridge 150 to contain the cigarettes S. The cartridge 150 is open at one end 162 opposite the end wall 160 for the movement of cigarettes S out of the cartridge 150 during a dispensing operation. One side wall 154 includes a side tab 164 which is folded across the open end 162 and attached to the opposite side wall 154. Each side wall 154 includes a large aperture 154a formed therein. The top and bottom walls 156, 158 each include a series of ratchet teeth 156a, 158a (see FIGS. 8-12) extending therefrom, such that when the blank 152 is formed, the ratchet teeth 156a, 158a are folded at right angles to the top wall 156 and bottom wall 158 respectively (see FIGS. 11 and 12). When the portions of the blank 152 comprising the top wall 156 and bottom wall 158 are then folded to form the constructed cartridge 150, the ratchet teeth 156a of the top wall 156 extend downward toward the bottom wall of the cartridge 150 parallel to and disposed against the respective adjacent side walls 154, and the ratchet teeth 158a of the bottom wall 158 extend upward toward the top wall of the cartridge 150 parallel to and disposed against the respective adjacent side walls 154.

A piston 170 (see, for example, FIG. 7) is provided within the cartridge 150 to push the row of cigarettes S through and out of the cartridge 150 during dispensing operations as will be described hereafter, and comprises an elongate element 172 which is of a generally square ‘U’-shape in cross-section (see FIGS. 7 and 16) and, a panel element 174 which is attached to the elongate element 172 proximate the middle of its front face 172a. The panel element 174 includes lateral side wings 174a which are angled outwardly and rearwards, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 17. The lateral side wings 174a are elastically resilient such that if deflected inwards, they will naturally tend to return to their original outwardly protruding position.

The piston 170 is received within the cartridge 150 with the front face 172a nearest the chassis open end 132 and the side wings angled away from the chassis open end 132. The piston 170 is configured such that when it is received within the cartridge 150, the side wings 174a of panel element 174 extend though the apertures 154a in the side walls 154.

The chassis 120 further comprises a leaf spring 136 and a receiver 138 (see, for example, FIG. 2). The leaf spring 136 is located at the far end of the chamber within the chassis 120 against the end wall 130, and the receiver 138 is also located at the far end of the chamber within the chassis 120 situated adjacent to and abutting against the leaf spring 136. The receiver 138 comprises an elongate cuboid member of substantially square cross-section, with an open cigarette-receiving channel 138a formed along a length of the receiver 138 which is aligned with the dispensing aperture 126a in the top wall 126 of the chassis 120. The receiver 138 further comprises two small guide slots 138b, one formed in each of opposing side walls of the receiver 138. The guide slots 138b extend from the bottom of the receiver 138 in communication with the channel 138a upwards along a portion of the height of the receiver 138. A lifting foot 140 (see FIGS. 2 and 22) is provided which comprises a platform 140a disposed within the channel 138a with a pair of vertical arms 140b extending upwardly from the platform 140a and which are disposed in respective ones of the guide slots 138b. Each vertical arm 140b includes a pair of guide pins 140c extending perpendicularly outwards from each vertical arm 140b though the respective adjacent guide slot 138b in the receiver 138. Each of the side walls 124 of the chassis 120 also includes a guide slot 124a aligned with the guide slot 138b in the respective side of the receiver 138 such that the guide pins 140c extend through the chassis side wall guide slots 124a, as well as the though the receiver guide slots 138b. The chassis guide slots 124a in the side walls 124 are contoured at their base to form a generally ‘L’ shaped configuration (see FIG. 2).

As illustrated in FIGS. 3A-3D, 4A-4D and 19-20B, the chassis 120 further includes a lifting arm 180 comprising an inner arm 182 held in a support member 184. The support member 184 has an aperture 184a at one end which locates on a support lug 186 protruding from one side wall 124 of the chassis 120. The opposite end of the inner arm 182 from the aperture 184a is disposed between upper and lower guide pins 140c of the lifting foot 140 such that rotational movement of the lifting arm 180 about the support lug 186 causes the lifting foot 140 to be raised and lowered within the channel 138a of the receiver 138 and guide slots 138b, 124a in the receiver 138 and chassis side walls 124 respectively.

The chassis side wall 124 on which the lifting arm 180 is mounted also includes a pair of bosses 188 situated laterally (see, for example, FIGS. 2, 3B, 4B) between the guide slot 124a and the support lug 186. The bosses 188 are vertically spaced from one another and are configured to constrain movement of the lifting arm 180. The bosses 188 thereby serve to define the upward and downward limits of movement of the lifting arm 180 as the support member 184 abuts against them.

The same side wall 124 of the chassis 120 which supports the lifting arm 180 also includes a guide track 190 formed thereon defined by a curved protruding wall element upstanding from the face of the side wall 124. The guide track 190 is positioned above the support lug 186 and comprises an elongate teardrop loop defined around an island element 190a (see FIGS. 2 and 25), and the converging part at the point of the ‘teardrop’ shaped loop is directly above the support lug 186. The inner arm 182 of the lifting arm 180 includes a portion which extends around the support lug 186 and outwards in a radial direction of the support lug 186 and terminates to provide a contact end 182a (see FIGS. 2, 3C/4C, 19) disposed in the converging portion of the guide track 190. Thereby, movement of the contact end 182a of the inner arm 182 causes the lifting arm 180 to pivot about the support lug 186 within the confines of the bosses 188, and thereby causes the lifting foot 140 to be raised or lowered.

As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 23, a linkage element 192 is coupled between the end door 112 and the chassis 120 and comprises a bar with a first coupling pin 192a extending therefrom and rotatably received in an aperture 112b in the end door 112 (see FIG. 18B), and a second coupling pin 192b extending from the opposite side of the opposite end of the bar, which is retained within the guide track 190. Thereby, reciprocating movement of the end door 112 relative to the chassis 120 causes the second coupling pin 192b to travel around the guide track 190 around the island element 190a as the linkage element 192 pivots about the first coupling pin 192a. Further, the linkage element 192 is configured and located relative to the support member 184 of the lifting arm 180 such that as the end door 112 moves in a first forward direction, the linkage element 192 rests on the support member 184 and the second coupling pin 192b is led along the top portion of the guide track 190 and, as the end door 112 moves in the opposite return direction, the second coupling pin 192b continues around and back on the lower portion of the guide track 190.

Operation of the cigarette dispenser 100 of the invention, in combination with a cartridge 150 of the invention, will now be described, with particular reference to FIGS. 3A to 3D and 4A to 4D. Firstly, a user pivots the end door 112 open to expose the open end 110a of outer casing 110. A cartridge 150 filled with cigarettes S is inserted into the chamber of the chassis 120 until the open end 162 of the cartridge 150 abuts the receiver 138. In this position, the cartridge 150 is fully inserted within the chassis 120 and the end of the cartridge 150 proximate the end wall 160 extends a short way out of the open end 132 of the chassis 120. The end door 112 is then shut to close the outer casing 110 with the inner face of the end door 112 just in contact with the end wall 160 of the cartridge 150 and the second coupling pin 192b located in the guide track 190. The dispenser 100 is then ready for use.

To dispense a cigarette S from the dispenser 100, a user pushes the end door 112 as an operating button inwards towards and into the outer casing 110. The end door 112 engages and actuates the end wall 160 of the cartridge 150 to cause the cartridge 150 to slide forwards further into the chamber 122 of chassis 120. This is shown in the movement from FIG. 3A to 3B and FIG. 4A to 4B. As this happens, the uppermost and lowermost corners of the elongate element 172 of the piston 170 act as pawls and bind against the ratchet teeth 156a, 158a of the cartridge 150 (as illustrated in Annex 1) and thereby the piston 170, together with the smoking articles ahead of the piston 170, is forced to move forwards together with the cartridge 150 within and relative to the chassis 120. As the piston 170 moves forwards within the chassis 120, the side wings 174a of the piston 170 are deflected inwards in order to ride over and past the next vertical rib 134 on the inside of the side wall 124 of the chassis 120, forward of their starting position. After riding over and past each vertical rib 134, the side wings deflect back outwards. Simultaneously, the cartridge 150 pushes against the receiver 138 which moves forwards together with the cartridge 150 and compresses the leaf spring 136 against the end wall 130 of the chassis 120. The lifting foot 140 moves forward with the receiver 138 such that the guide pins 140c locate in the bottom forward-most part of the ‘L’ shape of the guide slots 124a in the side walls 124 of the chassis 120. During this movement, the second coupling pin 192b moves forwards in the upper part of the guide track 190 and pushes against and passes over the contact end 182a of the lifting arm 180, rotating the lifting arm 180 downwards about the support lug 186 to its lowermost position with the support arm 184 abutting against the bottom boss 188. The distal end of the inner arm 182 located between the guide pins 140c of the lifting foot 140 causes the lifting foot to be in its lowered position, although at this stage it is held at this level by being within the forward-most part of the ‘L’ shape of the guide slots 124a in the side walls 124 of the chassis 120.

As the user releases the end door 112, the biasing force exerted by the compressed leaf spring 136 pushes the receiver 138 and abutting cartridge 150 backwards in the opposite direction to return to the start position. However, the side wings 174a of the piston 170 now act as pawls and bind against the vertical ribs 134 on the inside of the side wall 124 of the chassis 120 which they previously rode over on the forward movement and thereby prevent the piston 170 from moving backwards and returning with the cartridge 150. This causes the cartridge 150 to move backwards under the force of the leaf spring 136 but the piston 170 and row of cigarettes S ahead of the piston 170 remain stationary in the advanced position relative to the chassis 120. This causes the lead cigarette S within the cartridge 150 to be pushed out of the cartridge open end 162. As the cartridge 150 moves backwards relative to the chassis 120 and to the piston 170, the uppermost and lowermost corners of the elongate element 172 of the piston 170 ride over the adjacent ratchet teeth 156a, 158a of the cartridge 150 and locate against the flat vertical face 159 (see FIG. 7) of the next ratchet teeth 156a, 158a of the cartridge 150.

As the receiver 138 moves backwards under the force of the leaf spring 136, it moves towards the stationary row of cigarettes S and engages the lead cigarette S just ejected from the cartridge 150, into the channel 138a. The lifting foot 140, at this time, also moves backwards with the receiver 138 so that the lead cigarette S becomes located on top of the platform 140a and, simultaneously, the second coupling pin 192b begins to travel along the lower return path in the guide track 190 below the island element 190a. The channel 138a in the receiver moves into alignment with the dispensing apertures 126a, 110c in the chassis 120 and outer casing 110, respectively. This part of the dispensing operation is shown in the movement from FIG. 3B to 3C and FIG. 4B to 4C.

Finally, as the end door 112 and cartridge 150 reach the end of the backward movement and return to the starting position again, the second coupling pin 192b moves backwards in the lower part of the guide track 190 until it reaches and pushes against the contact end 182a of the lifting arm 180, thereby rotating the lifting arm 180 upwards about the support lug 186 to its uppermost position with the support arm 184 abutting against the upper boss 188. This causes the distal end of the inner arm 182 located between the guide pins 140c of the lifting foot 140 to lift the lifting foot 140 upwards to its raised position, as the guide pins 140c travel upwards within the guide slots 138b, 124a of the receiver 138 and the side walls 124 of the chassis 120. This causes the lead cigarette to be lifted upwards on the platform 140a and out of the dispensing apertures 126a, 110a in the chassis 120 and outer casing 110 respectively. This part of the dispensing operation is shown in the movement from FIG. 3C to 3D and FIG. 4C to 4D.

At the very end of its movement, the second coupling pin 192b passes over the contact end 182a of the lifting arm 180, and is therefore ready to repeat the above-described process by pushing and rotating the lifting arm 180 downwards again on the next dispensing operation. However, after the second coupling pin 192b passes over the contact end 182a of the lifting arm 180, the lifting foot 140 and lifting arm 180 may naturally fully or partially drop under their own weight, although this does not affect subsequent dispensing operations.

The above-described dispensing process is repeated for each cigarette S to be dispensed from the cartridge 150 out of the dispenser 100, and each time, the piston 170 indexes forwards relative to the cartridge 150 and chassis 120 by the ratchet mechanism comprising the side wings 174a on the vertical ribs 134 and elongate member 172 ends on the ratchet teeth 156a, 158a. When the cartridge 150 is empty, the forwards movement of the cartridge 150 pushes the piston 170 forwards right to the open end 162 of the cartridge 150 such that the side wings 174a engage with the edges of the apertures 154a and are deflected inwards as the piston 170 is further advanced so that they lie flat against the side walls 154 of the cartridge. In this position, they are out of snagging engagement with the vertical ribs 134 on the inside walls 124 of the chassis 120. A user may then open the end door 112 and easily remove the spent cartridge 150 and replace it with a fresh full cartridge 150. The dispenser 100 is then reloaded and ready for use as described above.

The invention described above includes a dispenser 100, a cartridge 150 for use with the dispenser 100 and a dispenser 100 in combination with the cartridge 150. An alternative embodiment of a cartridge 250 of the invention will now be described which is also suitable for use with the same dispenser 100 as already described, and so detailed description of the dispenser 100 will not be repeated.

The alternative embodiment of a cartridge 250 of the invention is shown in FIGS. 25 to 28D and comprises a housing comprising two side walls 254, a top wall 256, a bottom wall 258 and an end wall 260 which together define a space within the cartridge 250 to contain the cigarettes S. The cartridge 250 is open at one end 262 (see FIG. 26) opposite the end wall 260 for the movement of cigarettes S out of the cartridge 250 during an above-described dispensing operation. Each cartridge side wall 254 includes a large aperture 254a formed therein. Each of the cartridge top and bottom walls 256, 258 include a series of horizontal ribs 256a, 258a extending inwardly therefrom across the width of the respective wall 256, 258. The ribs 256a, 258a in each series are regularly spaced along the length of each side respective wall 256, 258 and the spacing corresponds approximately to the spacing of the vertical ribs 134 of the chassis side walls 124, which correspond approximately to the diameter of the cigarettes within the cartridge 250 which are to be dispensed from the dispenser 100.

A piston 270 (see FIGS. 25 and 27) is provided within the cartridge 250 to push the row of cigarettes S through and out of the cartridge 250 during dispensing operations as described above, and comprises an elongate element 272 which is a generally rigid and rectangular flat panel. The elongate element 272 has a pair of lateral side wings 274, one wing extending from approximately the middle of each of the long side edges, and which are angled outwardly and rearwards (when the cartridge is inserted into the dispenser). The piston 270 also includes a pair of end tabs 276, one extending from each of the top and bottom edges of the elongate element 272 and which are also angled outwardly and rearwards (when the cartridge is inserted into the dispenser).

The piston 270 is received within the cartridge 250 orientated such that the side wings 274 and end tabs 276 angled away from the open end 262 with the end tabs 276 resting against the top and bottom walls 256, 258 of the cartridge 250 between the ribs 256a, 258a. The piston 270 is configured such that when it is received within the cartridge 250, the side wings 274 extend though the apertures 254a in the side walls 254. Furthermore, both the side wings 274 and the end tabs 276 are elastically resilient and so when caused to be deflected inwards, exert a return biasing force in an outward direction.

The operation of the dispenser 100 in use with the alternative cartridge 250 of the invention is very similar to that described above with the first-described cartridge 150, and so will not be repeated here in its entirety. Only the function of the differing features will be described.

To dispense a cigarette S from the dispenser 100, end door 112 is pushed inwards towards and into the outer casing 110. The end door 112 pushes the end wall 260 of the cartridge 250 to cause the cartridge 250 to slide forwards further into the chamber of chassis 120. This is shown schematically in the movement from FIG. 28A1 to 28C1 and 28A2 to 28C2. As this happens, the end tabs 276 of the piston 270 act as pawls and bind against the horizontal ribs 256a, 258a. Thereby, the piston 270, together with the smoking articles ahead of the piston 270, is forced to move forwards with the cartridge 250 relative to the chassis 120. As the piston 270 moves forwards within the chassis 120, the side wings 274 of the piston 270 are deflected inwards (see arrows P1 in FIG. 28B2 and FIG. 29B) as they are made to ride over and past the next vertical rib 134 on the inside of each side wall 124 of the chassis 120, forward of their starting position. Having past the next vertical rib 134, the side wings 274 spring outwards under their elastic resilience (see arrows P2 in FIG. 28C and FIG. 29C) and then locate against the forward edge of the vertical ribs 134 they just passed over. Simultaneously, the cartridge 250 pushes against the receiver 138 which moves forwards together with the cartridge 250 and compresses the leaf spring 136 against the end wall 130 of the chassis 120 as described previously.

As the user releases the end door 112, the biasing force exerted by the compressed leaf spring 136 pushes the receiver 138 and abutting cartridge 250 backwards to return to the start position. However, the side wings 274 of the piston 270 now act as pawls and bind against the vertical ribs 134 on the inside of each side wall 124 of the chassis 120 which they previously rode over on the forward movement and thereby prevent the piston 270 from returning with the cartridge 250. This causes the cartridge 250 to move backwards under the force of the leaf spring 136 but the piston 270 and row of cigarettes S ahead of the piston 270 remain stationary in the advanced position relative to the chassis 120. A lead cigarette S in the cartridge 250 is pushed out of the cartridge open end 262. As the cartridge 250 moves backwards relative to the chassis 120 and to the piston 270, the end tabs 276 of the piston 270 ride over the next adjacent horizontal rib 256a, 258a and locate thereagainst. This position is shown in FIG. 28D, in which the cartridge 250 is returned to the starting position and the leading cigarette S has been pushed from the cartridge 250 (and is shown partially elevated in FIG. 28D) and may be dispensed from the dispenser 100 as described above. The remaining steps of the dispensing operation are as already described.

Although an exemplary embodiment of the dispenser of the invention and two exemplary embodiments of the cartridge of the invention for use in such a dispenser have been described above, it will be appreciated that various modifications may be made to these embodiments within the scope of the invention which is defined by the claims hereafter, the invention also including a dispenser in combination with a cartridge. Any combinations of non-mutually exclusive features described above are intended to fall within the scope of the invention.

The first-described cartridge 150 is intended to be made from card, although may be made from other suitable materials such as plastic, or a combination of materials (for example, the piston 170 may be made from plastic and the blank 172 of the cartridge 150 made from card, or vice versa). Also, although the piston 170 of the first cartridge 150 is described as being made from two separate components, it may equally be made integrally as single body.

Similarly, the alternative cartridge embodiment 250 may be made from any suitable material such as plastic or card, or a combination of materials. Also, although the piston 270 of the second cartridge 250 is described as being made as single integral body, it may equally be made from two or more separate components joined together.

The cartridge 150/250 is intended to be a replaceable and disposable component with which the dispenser 100 can be reloaded with a new full cartridge 150/250 once all of the cigarettes in the previous cartridge 150/250 have been dispensed and said previous cartridge 150/250 removed from the chassis 120 and discarded.

The first-described cartridge 150 is shown as including a side tab 164 which extends across the open end 162 of the cartridge 150. This is intended to retain the cigarettes within the cartridge 150 during manufacture, packing and distribution, until the end user is ready to load the cartridge 150 into the dispenser 100. At this point, the user breaks the tab 164 manually by tearing or otherwise, prior to insertion of the cartridge 150 into the dispenser 100. However, the tab may be breakable upon first dispensing operation, for example, if a line of weakness is provided in the tab 164 such that when the piston 170 is first indexed forwards relative to the cartridge 150, the lead cigarette S breaks the tab 164 to allow it to be dispensed. The second described cartridge 250 may include such a retaining and/or breakable tab within the scope of the invention.

In both the first-described cartridge 150 and the alternative cartridge 250, the cartridge 150/250 may be initially supplied with the piston 170/270 positioned back within the cartridge 150/250 proximate the rear wall 160/260 thereof such that the side wings 174a/274 of the piston 170/270 are restrained within the cartridge 150/250 between the side walls 154/254, and not extending through the large apertures 154a/254a in the side walls 154/254. Then, upon an initial dispensing operation of the dispenser 100 as described above, the piston 170/270 is moved towards the open end 162/262 of the cartridge 150/250 until the side wings 174a/274 of the piston 170/270 reach the large apertures 154a/254a in the side walls 154/254 and spring outwardly to extend therethrough. Alternatively, however, the cartridge 150/250 may be initially supplied with the side wings 174a/274 of the piston 170/270 already protruding through the large apertures 154a/254a in the side walls 154/254.

The locking key 114 which secures the chassis 120 within the outer casing 110 can be detachable from the cooperating means on the end wall 130 of the chassis 120 to enable the chassis 120 to be removed from the outer casing 110. This facility may enable a user to interchange different styles or designs of outer casing for the dispenser 100, while retaining the same internal components of the chassis 120.

The end door 112 is described as being slidable within the outer casing 110 and pivotable relative thereto to enable reloading of the chassis 120 with a new cartridge 150/250. However, the end door 112 may equally be removable from the outer casing 110 within the scope of the invention. It will also be appreciated that the end door could be provided as a replaceable component attached to the cartridge 150/250 and engageable with the lifting arm mechanism upon replacement of the cartridge 150/250. Furthermore, although the above embodiments describe the dispenser 100 including a mechanism to lift the cigarettes S as well as sequentially index them out of the cartridge 150/250 to be dispensed, the invention is not intended to be limited to a dispenser having the above-described lifting mechanism, nor one having a lifting mechanism at all, and may simply index and dispense cigarettes from the cartridge 150/250 without also lifting them from the dispenser 100 in a combined movement.

In addition to the above description and listed Figures, two sets of sequential drawings of the stages of operation of the dispenser 100 in use with each of the two embodiments of the cartridge 150/250 are included as Annex 1 and Annex 2 respectively. The drawings of these annexes are side and plan views and show the internal features of the dispenser 100 and cartridge 150/250, with one side view sequence in each Annex also showing the cigarettes within the cartridge 150/250. The reference numerals are omitted from the drawings of these annexes for clarity but correspond to all of the numbered features shown in FIGS. 1 to 29C.