Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International but none at all from British American Tobacco.
In both the replies got, they refer to HMRC and recent large seizures of tobacco but furnished no details. Despite a great deal of investigation, l can find no details whatsover of these 'large seizures' so l questioned their actual existance. Turns out l was right to do so.
Since April 1st 2009 (good starting date, eh?) HMRC released their approach to 'chain of supply' and what they expected tobacco companies to do about it.
The crux of the 'approach' is to treat tobacco companies like UK shoppers purchasing tobacco from the EU. lf shoppers are stopped with what they consider large but we are still allowed to take them home but are issued with a Notice 1. This states the amount you bought back and warns that if you bring anymore back in a given period it will be confiscated. There are no fixed quantities for what HMRC consider large, it is left for them to decide.
This is basically what they have done to tobacco companies. If the seizures are large, the tobacco companies will be issued with an Initial Notice (a warning notice) that lasts for 6 months. lf within this period another seizure occurs HMRC will then issue a Penalty Notice with a fine of up to £5 million (this of course can be contested). The only difference is that unlike the Uk shoppers, the tobacco companies have it stated what a large seizure is.
It is 500 sleeves of cigarettes (sleeve = 10 x packets of 20) and 50kg of tobacco or over. Anything under these amounts will not be considered large.
So were the tobacco companies issued with an Initial Notice? lf they were, why no details of such. If they were not, why the restriction of supply?
It doesn't take a genius to note that sales of 500 sleeves of cigarettes and 50kg of tobacco to a shopper are probably not for personal use. Given that tobacco companies and HMRC monitor the sales and distribution of tobacco from the shops, how do such amounts get sold in the first place????
As for Mr Smuggler and the shops, one would think that to guarantee sales and supply that a self-imposed limit of 499 sleeves and 49 kg of tobacco ( or other blatantly obvious methods) would completely nulify the HMRC's 'chain of supply' ???
In the meantime, the UK shopper cannot purchase his 3kg of tobacco as he was not made aware of the impending restriction of supplies. I have no doubt that Mr Smuggler and the shops did have pre-warning and took appropiate action. Our legitimate UK shopper is the only one that suffers ... again!
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