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Shelf Life of Tobacco .... From the Horses Mouth ... the UKBA
Customer Service Improvement
Freedom of Information Team
Lunar House 40 Wellesley Road
[FOI #82453 email]
01 September 2011
Dear ## ########
Thank you for your e-mail of 10 August 2011, in which you ask: the specific time
period for UKBA destroying tobacco goods? What specific shelf life do the UKBA
state tobacco products have?; and what factual documented evidence do the UKBA
base their specific shelf life period of tobacco products on. Your request has been
handled as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
We are now in a position to provide a full reply to your request.
Question 1: What is specific time period for UKBA destroying tobacco goods?
Paragraph 2.15 of Notice 12A “What you can do if things are seized by HM Revenue
& Customs” explains when seized perishable goods will be destroyed:
How likely is it that HMRC will have disposed of the seized thing?
We will dispose of perishable goods (including tobacco and beer and all food
products) as quickly as possible.
The legislation allowing the destruction of goods is contained in Schedule 3,
paragraph 16(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, which provides:
Where any thing has been seized as liable to forfeiture the Commissioners
may at any time if they see fit and not withstanding that the thing has not yet
been condemned, or is not yet deemed to have been condemned, as forfeited
- ... if the thing seized …is in the opinion of the Commissioners of a perishable
nature, sell or destroy it.
Questions 2 & 3: What specific shelf-life do the UKBA state tobacco products
have? What factual documented evidence do UKBA base their specific shelf-
life period of tobacco products on?
In 2003 HM Revenue & Customs were provided with a copy of a letter from Imperial
Tobacco Limited in which they advise:
The time that tobacco goods will remain in good condition varies according to
storage facilities, climatic conditions, difference in wrapping material used etc.
Tobacco goods should be kept at a cool, even temperature between 10C
(50F) and 13C (55F). they should be kept away from other goods which can
transmit taste and flavour, e.g. soap, firelighters.
The shelf life of the different packings of tobaccos from the date of
manufacture are as follows:-
Pouch and printed foil packings – up to twelve months
Tin packings – up to two years
Thermoform packings – up to two years.
The UKBA therefore consider that when remaining sealed in its original packaging
and stored under ideal conditions, pouches of tobacco remains fresh for up to twelve
months, and would expect tobacco to become dry / stale when kept for longer than
this when held in ordinary domestic conditions.
I hope that this information meets your requirements. I would like to assure you that
we have provided you with all relevant information that the Home Office holds.
If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal
review of our handling of your request by submitting a complaint within two months to
the address below, quoting reference 19630. If you ask for an internal review, it
would be helpful if you could say why you are dissatisfied with the response.
Information Access Team
Ground Floor, Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
e-mail: [email address]
As part of any internal review the Department's handling of your information request
will be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response.
If you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you would have a right of
complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the
Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom of Information Team
UK Border Agency