Another Tobacco Co. reply .... yet more confirmed appeasement

Dear Mr ######
                           Thank you for your recent email address to Pierre de Labouchere and Yasushi Shingai, which has been forwarded on to me for response.I can confirm that JTI has been in discussions with HMRC regarding the supply of Amber Leaf into the Belgium market.  These discussions follow large seizures of product by HMRC in the UK .  Pending the outcomes of these discussions with HMRC, JTI decided to take the precautionary step of stopping the supply of Amber Leaf into this market.This is done regularly by JTI in order to help the authorities dealing with illicit trade.  We know that it can inconvenience loyal customers such as yourself but it is also the only way to ensure that, over time, the product you get is really the product you want to buy.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you, but please be advised that JTI is in the process of recommencing the supply of Amber Leaf into the Belgium marketplace, so the product should once again be available for purchase in Belgium.

Yours Sincerely,
Michelle McKeown
Vice President Corporate Affairs

Gallaher Ltd ... a member of JTI Companies


Dear Ms McKeown,
                                 thank you for your reply. However, l must take issue with the content. You say that you are in discussion with HMRC. Are you referring to the threats of HMRC? Namely their documented threat of imposing "fine of up to £5million can be imposed on manufacturers if their products are seized by HMRC as a result of over-supplying the legitimate trade" ?

l and other shoppers recognise the ambiguity of this threat. We are regularly threatened in the same manner when confronted by HMRC .... fines, prison, upto, could, may , if, .... and so on. We take no notice of this threatening intimidation.Unfortunately, many do take notice and let HMRC unjustly take their legitimately bought goods.

l also note that you refer to recent large seizures of 'product' by HMRC in the UK. Specifically, what does 'product' refer to? ... tobacco? cigarettes? liquor? ... or are you/HMRC saying Amber Leaf?

I  am not being pedantic here, it's extremely important considering the conduct of HMRC when they confront us legitimate shoppers (which you never commented on, by the way). Apart from harassment and intimidation we recieve, HMRC are not renown for exactly being honest as documented cases have shown.What seems to bear this out is that the UKBA/HMRC have no publicised  records of large shipments of Amber Leaf, or indeed tobacco, seized this year. As HMRC immediately publish any such seizures (even small seizures) to the press, l find it somewhat strange that there are none .Especially so,  as you seem to have withdrawn Amber Leaf from the Belgium market merely on the face of these undocumented  'large seizures'.

ln your next paragraph you state "the product you get is really the one you want to buy'. This infers that when you say 'illicit goods' you are referring to counterfeit goods? I fail to see how restricting your product Amber Leaf has any impact whatsover on counterfeit goods other than increasing the conterfeit trade to fill the demand you've created.

Given that you state that you constantly monitor your outlets in Belgium.yet you still restrict the product? l can only conclude that you are complying to whatever HMRC tells you, factual or not. You seem to trust the HMRC. I can tell and show you emphatically that this trust is totally unwarranted.

We, your customers, rely on a constant supply of our preferred brand. lf that supply is switched on and off we will find another brand we like that we can depend on to give a constant supply. We smokers don't like changing brands and stick with that brand ... unless we cannot no longer get a supply. If not, we change to another brand that will maintain supply. lt matters not if your brand comes back on the market as our loyalties are now with some other company ... which will probably be one of your EU competitors. What none of us will certainly do is buy any of our tobacco in the UK .... period.

I hope you can clarify these matters.

              ##### #######


  1. More of the same. Customers can go to hell aslong as HMRC are made happy. These tobacco companies are run by a set of wimps.

  2. you'll be deffo off their xmas card list SH

  3. From Dave Atherton

    Smoking Hot, I consider that a courteous reply and outlines the predicament that tobacco companies have. As I have stated before tobacco companies don't care where they sell their goods. For example Andorra is a very small state but sold volumes of cigarettes that assumed the population are smoking 1,000 fags a day. The tobacco companies were happy to supply Andorra knowing full well that some of the purchases were going to be of a marginal nature.

    The thing to bear in mind is that we as Brits are far more economically liberal than the Europeans, free trade was a British invention. The EU are do not have the first idea how to create a dynamic economy and are entirely interventionist in their outlook.

    If the tobacco companies do not conform to EU dikdats the Commission will pass legislation further restricting them. That means despite the single market the EU may end up passing special legislation banning Brits from buying tobacco abroad in Spain, Belgium etc. There is already in European legislation a country may object to the single market on "moral grounds"

    What I glean from the letter is that there is no general restriction on tobacco but just that brand. A little more pleasing.

  4. Dave, it is indeed courteous but it isn't exactly truthful. EU dikdats? ... this is HMRC dikdats based on untruths and little factual evidence whatsoever. Smuggling figures are pure guesswork and nothing more.

    UK shoppers are increasing as flights to EU get cheaper along with more availibility. Shoppers are an easy target for HMRC with their tactics are unethical to downright intimidation. Yet where do we hear anyone speaking up or us? Certainly not the tobacco companies, airlines or ferry companies. The last one was Hoverspeed but they couldn't compete against the Tunnel when it opened so folded.

    You say that is only one brand but that's not quite correct. lt's 3 brands by 3 companies. We know full well that this will only be the first step with the zealots at HMRC. Next will be 2 brands each, then 3? Remember how the anti-smokers started?

    No, sorry Dave, l simply won't accept it. l've seen far too many of my fellow citizens robbed, humiliated and intimidated for that. lf tobacco companies and HMRC won't tell the truth l'll do my utmost to expose it.

    l don't condone smuggling but if ever the EU imposed a total ban on UK citizens legitmately buying their tobacco abroad l almost certainly would.

    l refuse to be subservient to oppression, for that is what it is. l know us tobacco EU shopper's numbers are even smaller than smokers so our voice is even less heard but l'll fight on.

    Will l win? ... prob not but atleast l stood up to be counted. That, for me, is a stand worth making.

  5. Well said SH. Good reply to JTI too.

    Justine Hawkins

  6. Have to agree with SH. Dave, threats of the Brits been banned from buying tobacco abroad and being a little pleased that they give us back what they shouldnt have taken away in first place is not on. l dont want to be a goodlittle boy and patted on the head and given treats for it by the likes of HMRC thanks.

  7. Am in contact with 3 tobacco companies. l'm trying to chase up supposedly recent large seizures of tobacco HRT. l'm drawing a complete blank on these seizures despite UKBA press releases showing everything else. l can.t see them not releasing something like this ... so where is it?

  8. All l can see is complete garbage in these replies from IT and JTI. I can't find any large seizures of tobacco reported either. WTF?

  9. These fools have got even law abiding shop owners in andinkerqe shitting it, i was there last weekend in stop shop for some gv, when i asked if i could obtain 120 pauches for me and my wife they went into a frenzy looking over my shoulder and flapping about.

    This is the same shop i was in last December when i bought 180 pouch for myself.

    How can the uk border farce impose this kind of fear on a trading establishment in a eu member state is beyond belief!!!


"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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