We’re going to need a bigger van…

…for those trips to Europe.

Cigarettes are to rise in price again and there is now a system in place whereby no pack of cigarettes can cost less than £7.24. You can get a pack for less than half that in any other country in Europe.

Assuming we do eventually leave the EU, there will be a limit imposed on how many cigarettes we can bring back per person. There is no limit on how many you can bring back for your own use at the moment due to the EU’s free movement of goods rules but if you have loads, expect to have them stolen by border control anyway. So the imposition of a limit isn’t any reason to stay in the EU.

If the limit is, say, 300 (15 packs) then if you have a weekend in Europe you’ll save about £54 per person by stocking up while there.

The tobacco story is an old one. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t cheaper everywhere outside the UK. Even as a child, if we went to France or Spain my dad would take the limit home and so would my mum (who never smoked). Lately my parents often went to Portugal and brought me home five 50g packs of rolling baccy. At the time it was a gift worth at least £75 at UK prices. They paid half that. Unfortunately they are getting too old for those trips.

Oh yes, my parents are still alive. My father, a lifelong smoker and my mother, a lifelong passive smoker, are both still alive. Neither have experienced cancer. It’s not just me who defies NHS statistics. It’s the whole family.

Alcohol is also a lot cheaper in most EU countries. I noticed, in Germany, that whiskies like Famous Grouse were the same price in little corner shops as they are in big supermarkets here. I also noticed that only the idiots in charge of the UK have fallen for hiding tobacco behind doors and putting them in plain packs. Nobody else has fallen for this one.

Nobody else will fall for the utterly cretinous notion of putting all booze, including fine malt whiskies, into plain packs and hiding them behind shutters. Oh it’s coming. Plain packs for ‘non-approved’ foods is already being talked about as the Next Logical Step in the bullying of the entire nation. These thugs are never satisfied. Never. When they have total control they will start telling you how many steps you have to take every day – oh wait, that one’s already out there.

Now we have a tax on sugar. Initially on sugary drinks but if you think it will end there you really haven’t been paying attention at all. Imagine a world where Coke and Pepsi are in the same olive drab packaging with photos of meth mouth and Cyril Smith on every bottle. The company name relegated to 10-point Times New Roman. It’s all behind doors and you have to ask for it. Imagine it well because if you are under 50 you’ll see it in your lifetime.

Fancy a burger? You’ll get it with MACDONALDS on the olive green box in 10-point Times New Roman with a picture of someone syringing lard through an artery on the top. Actually not hard to copy. I like liver and it often has a large artery or two going through it.

Fancy fish and chips? It’ll be a lot smaller and cost more, not least because the chip shop has to buy olive green wrapping paper with pictures of Bernard Manning nude and a warning that all fish are so full of mercury that they will roll off the table if left unattended.

Oh I know. You’re scoffing. You don’t believe it can happen.

Go back to 2004 and tell the pub customers that soon they will be banned from smoking in there. Tell them they will buy cigarettes in drab green packs from behind doors and they will pay £7.24 for the cheapest brand. Listen to them scoff at you.

You’re going to need a van for a lot more than tobacco on future visits abroad. If you fly it will very likely be well worth paying an excess baggage charge.

As for smugglers, they’re likely to steal Mr. MacDonald’s favourite line.

‘I’m lovin’ it’.

33 thoughts on “We’re going to need a bigger van…

  1. So the imposition of a limit isn’t any reason to stay in the EU.
    Maybe not by itself no….
    and like The Bestes Frau it IS a big BUTT
    all the measures you list in the article were imposed by politicians of an independent, sovereign (and they are ‘sovereign’-they stole it in 1913) unfortunately ours.
    Never forget , never forgive, it was our own politicians who imposed all these things upon us, not the nasty EU. To my mind, and I’m neither a Brexiteur nor a Remainer nor a Brit nor a Kipper but a SMOKER, the last thing any sane person should be doing is removing what little adult oversight there is of our elected independent sovereign politicians.
    You think anyone under 50 will see such changes in their lifetime? Try anyone under 70. The ink from May’s mark on the final Brexit document will not be dry and they’ll be hiking cigs up to Oz prices and imposing licences for smokers (paid for by the smokers of course).


  2. I would say time to grow your own and ramp up the home brew but they’re already coming for the home baccy producers and it wasn’t that long ago that home brewing wasn’t legal so at the very least we can probably suspect controls on brew kits and malts etc.


  3. I’ve just cut my tax by about a third by replacing the tobacco next to the filter with some two year old mint flakes. I can’t see why I should pay good money on tobacco I throw away.
    When the mint flakes run out I’ll swap to loose leaf tea and see how that works.
    Enough is enough.


  4. Cigarettes are to rise in price again and there is now a system in place whereby no pack of cigarettes can cost less than £7.24. You can get a pack for less than half that in any other country in Europe.

    I was in Laos last week, and a packet (20) of local fags was 3000 Kip – about 30p. Not a bad smoke, either.


    • In the EU, stock up in the local shops. Duty free is no good, the good prices only apply for those leaving the EU. It’s actually a lot cheaper to get your stash in a corner shop than in duty free.


  5. “Oh I know. You’re scoffing. You don’t believe it can happen.”

    To paraphrase an old saying in reminiscing on Soooo many conversations I had with bar owners in the late ’90s and early 2000s… “Michael, It Will NEVER happen HERE!”




  6. Rent a bus, go abroad, then go load up on cigarettes. Before you return, fill the ashtrays on the bus with cigarettes. Customs will never think to look there. 😉


  7. Gibraltar is pretty cheap, although you’re [officially] restricted to 250g rolling or 200 cigs, as Gib is “outside” the EU. I don’t smoke, but a few of my friends do.

    Airport prices are slightly above the nearest shops or in the town, but still only £22 (Menthol Superkings), £18 (B & H), £15 (Golden Virginia 5x 50g), £10 (Drum). There are about 50 different brands to choose from. Alcohol is similarly cheap – Corvoisier £16; Good gin (Hendricks etc) about £10. Don’t know about other spirits, but all the usual off licence favourites are there, and there’s a separate specialist shop for Whisky aficionados.

    Flights from Gatwick vary between £40 and £70 most months, although some weeks that rises to £100/£120. Don’t go in July/August – £200/£300. (All prices are return tickets with EasyJet. Monarch, Flybe, and BA also fly but are less frequent / more expensive).

    So… If you can get away, fancy a “free” long weekend, paid from the difference in tobacco prices, in a warm sunny place with old pubs (many of which you can smoke in), cobbled streets, red telephone boxes (well, 2 anyway, by the airport) – you get the idea.

    Pro tip – stay in a hotel / hostel (B&B) in Spain 5 minutes walk over the border. Go in Nov/Dec, and daytime temperatures plummet to around 12/14 degrees – feasible for even the most pallid Scots/Welshman, with sufficient SPF 60 or bandages.

    Disclaimer – I was commuting once/twice a month for nearly 5 years, so was paying for the flights anyway. Flying to Malaga is cheaper, but less convenient and in any case the duty free is extortionate.


  8. The norm is 200 fags or 250 gr of ‘baccy if you’re coming in from a non EU country. The link gives you all the bumph, country by country. It’s loaded for Greece because it’s got an odd clause. The standard allowance applies only to air travellers; go there by bus and the limit’s reduced to 40 fags or 50 gr tobacco, presumably on account Greece borders on countries where fags are at giveaway prices.


    ASH want the same as they have in Australia and NZ (40 fags, 50 gr ‘baccy) when we eventually conclude negotiations. Then it’ll be over to whomsoever is our Chancellor to decide – and then it’ll only be if we have a hard exit.

    My gut says if it’s Hammond then he’ll stick to the standard UK allowances, if for no other reason than he won’t want to hit legitimate tourists.


    If by some incredible feat the May Team manage to negotiate we leave the EU with full access to the single market and the customs union (but without that irksome business of having to let in all and sundry), then there will be no change to existing arrangements.

    Of course if the fishwife does win her indy2 and if the EU fudges the rules to let Scotland remain within the community then we’ll most likely be in deep shite. Duffy’ll push for an Aussie style allowance and I do believe the SNP’ll be only too happy to accommodate her.

    Meaning the people who can and have the will to do so, may chose to route into Scotland via Newcastle.


  9. ## I also noticed that only the idiots in charge of the UK have fallen for hiding tobacco behind doors and putting them in plain packs. Nobody else has fallen for this one.##
    Now that 65% or so of the pack, both front and back, is covered in medical porn all over EU, that’s de facto plain packaging. And in this situation shutters are actually a good thing, every time I see those disfigured packs, my blood pressure rises.
    If the packs still looked like they do in the US, then it would be a totally different thing.


  10. “no pack of cigarettes can cost less than £7.24”

    I asked a friendly local shop for a look at their 2017 RRP list for tobacco here in NZ last night.
    [a wholesaler price list, marked RETAILER INFORMATION ONLY – NOT FOR PUBLIC DISPLAY]

    The cheapest packs of 20 cigarettes, brand names like Choice, Club, Easy, West, are $22NZD.
    From xe.com, that’s 12.5472GBP, call it £12.55.

    Marlboro is $26.50, B&H and Dunhill both $26.90, approx £15.11 and £15.34.

    As for RYO, the cheapest, I’m surprised to see, is again that brand Easy, which I’ve never seen or seen stocked – at “only” $45NZD;- another I haven’t seen for years is Colts American Blend $47.50, – then usually stocked are Capstan (not at all like the original Capstan cigarettes!) Club Royal and JPS at $48.50, Rothmans London Red $48.90, Riverstone $49.50, Winfield $49.90.

    For slightly more up-market brands, Park Drive, Pocket Edition, Port Royal, $52.90 = £30.15
    And for Drum (now reformulated as Classic or Rich) 30g (as all RYO above) it’s $53.40, ~ £30.44

    A 50g packet of Drum is a whopping $86.00NZD or approx £49, (~ £1 per gram!) – or 56 Euro.
    (Last year it was $79.00) In 2004 I clearly remember it was exactly NZD $25.00 for 50g.
    I remember because I traveled to Germany that year and bought 5 x 50g duty-free for $25 exiting.

    So, it’s more than tripled in retail price in 12 years. The tax here is fixed, not ad valorem.
    It surpassed the approximate international price of silver per gram a few years ago…


    And since the zealots, now firmly embedded in the Ministry of Health, have declared they want NZ – New Zeal land – to be “smokefree” by 2020 (or was it 2025? – arbitrary numbers) – essentially, this would make it a “smoke-free” (read: tobacco verboten) prison island for most folk over 55 or 65, or even quite a few over 35 ;- you can leave, you might think, but where can you go to?

    Where can you emigrate to, or be an immigrant in to, unless you can stack up the immigration entry points: desired job skills or experience, a bundle of money, of a certain youthful age, etc.?

    Unless you’re a refugee, of course… fleeing a war. Can we establish some new tobacco refuges?

    And there’s another 3 10% tax increments legislated for the next 3 years on January 1st…
    Straight after the previous lot. These are blatantly extortionate tax rates, nod & wink corruption.

    A change has to come. It has to become an issue. An issue impossible to ignore. And acted upon.

    Perhaps both well-reasoned and referenced letters to MP’s & mass protests together might work?

    And what more?


    • They really intend to make the entire country a no smoking zone? If they succeed, the next phase will be to make it a no drinking country and then an entirely vegetarian one. As you know, they never stop.

      Doesn’t look good for the future of New Zealand Lamb.

      Best option might be to retire to a less totalitarian place, like maybe Saudi Arabia…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, So, moving not being an option, one must challenge the status quo.
        Nuisance though it is, distracting from intended life accomplishments, effects.
        So, the system needs to be changed from within.

        Writing to the authorities:

        Articulate people like [redacted] could write &or supply evidence to inform them.

        Would it not work, isn’t it worth a try, to email directly a president, elected MPs?



        Nah, I’ll not be moving to SA, but have eyed some EU countries with interest.
        As has a friend, also coming up to ‘retirement’ age….where to go in the world?
        Or should we stay here, fix it up. Fight the good fight, whatever, wherever it is…

        Of course!


        • It would be interesting to see the figures, if such exist, for the sale of rolling tobacco in NZ compared with the sale of cigarette papers. I suspect that the sale of cigarette papers goes up and the sale of duty paid rolling tobacco plummeted. What a friend those nice smugglers have in Newzealand.gov !


          • I don’t think they keep tabs on rolling papers, and although their use for joints is no doubt popular, the interest in RYO tobacco is still intelligently high, simply because it is a better quality tobacco, in general, and the clean-burning rice papers don’t stink like the TC mandated RIP manufactured ones do…

            And NZ prides itself on having exceptional coastal customs surveillance, another reason why the global zealots have decided to make an example project of it.

            Smuggling might have been easy across the channel between Britain & France, and harking back, as I recall the reason for flavouring with rum or whisky was to distinguish between tax paid or smuggled products, hundreds of years ago. Yes?


            • No idea about the flavouring thing-although it wouldn’t surprise me. Don’t take this the wrong way but Kiwi smokers are a weird bunch. I used to sell tobacco leaf shredders online and , not surprisingly, had a lot of interest from NZ. It seems there is a flourishing ‘grow your own’ scene down there…and all power to them in my book. I say ‘weird’ because very often potential customers would baulk-not at the shipping cost (you live in NZ or OZ I assume you grow up with eye-bleed shipping costs )- but at the unit price I was charging for the things. I was always very open and honest about how much profit (or not) I made on each one and it was pennies. But time and time again NZers would grizzle, which not only offended me somewhat in my honour as an ‘onest Seller but, considering the price of tobacco in NZ, somewhat gobsmacked me. They would happily rather go on paying obscene prices for their tobacco than splash out £25 on a shredder.


              • Hmm, sorry to hear that, about the grizzling, I don’t know.
                Was this on sale in the local trademe.co.nz, or on ebay?

                Growing tobacco would be fine with a bit of a garden space, but I like many others am in an apartment complex with maybe a 1m x 3m balcony, already filled with some stuff, and while I’d like to grow some kitchen herbs & small veges, I’d be stretching it to grow one let alone two tobacco plants as well, hardly much.

                90% water, I understand that from the 22 odd leaves, you might get, if all went well, no mould, dried & cured & aged OK, some 120-150g of tobacco per plant.
                Estimates vary. But it’s not really practical for an apartment dweller to grow much.

                I’d love to move to somewhere where I had some garden space.

                Show us a picture of your shredder?

                Being a practical chap, I’m interested.

                If I’d ever gotten up to the stage of having a block to shred, I’d wondered about an electric plane, or some-such, to shave off strips.


                • @RdM Here my now defunct site (and I also sold on ebay) http://fredtheshred.blogspot.co.uk/

                  If you did ever end up with a block of tobacco then, just FYI, this is the machine to hunt on ebay for. They were made in Quebec and use bog standard stanley blades and really do give a cut as fine as shop bought rolling tobacco (albeit with some chunks, ain’t no way round that for home tobacco cutters):


  11. It’s a damn shame the wordpress comment facility isn’t WYSIWYG!
    All my carefully justified lines wrapped in the eventual post.
    I guess I’ll have to examine and work out an idea of when to hit early carriage returns…


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