For the first time in my life I regret being a late adopter of some vaunted new technology.
And this is bad news for Bic and all the companies that make those horrible little butane lighters that you use to light your gas stove or start a campfire. In RV lingo, they are called "flame throwers." I have used so many of those crappy little things. I've tried refilling them, buying more expensive ones, or getting by with just the piezo spark. It has always been a good idea to maintain a cache of wooden matches as a backup.
Just recently a friend liberated me from butane lighters by showing me a new-fangled electric lighter.
No piezo element. No butane. No fumbling with child-proof, Ralph Nader-approved buttons that require three hands. And no buying a new one every six months, just to learn that the price has gone up again.
Electric arcs are not a new idea. They have been around since Benjamin Franklin's kite. Wikipedia actually has a good article on them, apparently without the help of the CIA. Think about various type of lamps/lighting products or electric arc welding. Why did it take the world so long to come up with these electric lighters?: probably it was miniaturizing the batteries that provide the electric arc. It isn't just a momentary spark.
What is really slick about these electric lighters is that their little batteries can be recharged with a USB cable. Let's hope the battery or circuitry doesn't fail every in six months!