Smoke gets in your lies

I received an email this morning from “The Angry Smoker”, directing me to a web site that enables nicotine addicts to “fight back”:

We have been penalised, long enough, it is time to fight back!
If you are fed up of being ripped off by a British government, who continually
raise taxes on tobacco, take away your rights of freedom by banning smoking
in public places, and use their mafia style tactics and organisation; ‘UK
Customs & Excise’, to threaten and scare you, then it is time you fought back!
For more information go to:

The site in question (link removed because I don’t want to encourage spam) takes you to a thinly veiled marketing site for various tobacco importation companies. These firms can sell cigarettes at ridiculously low prices to British fag-addicts thanks to various loopholes; for example:

In accordance with EU law, all our tobacco products are ordered by clients as gifts for family and friends. No further duty or tax is payable on gift items as long as they have been purchased inside the EU by a private person residing within the EU, and given to another private person also residing within the EU.

There’s just one little problem with that claim. It’s bullshit.

Here’s what customs has to say about it:

There are no statutory reliefs for tobacco goods posted as gifts from other EC countries, however Customs will not normally make additional charges provided that: It is a bona-fide gift sent from a private person in another EC country to a private person in UK… Purchasing cigarettes from an internet company in another EC country to send to a family member or friend as a gift will NOT qualify for relief of duty and VAT.

If your consignment is intercepted – and it probably will be; customs is going after illegal cigarette imports in a big way – then you’ll either have to pay duty on the cigarettes – around £32 for a carton of 200 smokes, so your £30 carton of cigarettes will cost you £62; Tesco’s currently flogging 200 B&H for £44 – or your imports could be impounded and you could face prosecution.

If you want to get round the UK’s high tobacco taxes, there’s only one way to do it – and that’s to go to another EU country yourself.