Last year, Taking Stock brought you news that the jolly folk at Customs & Excise had stubbed out attempts by a Middlesex entrepreneur Chris Brooks to export ‘free’ cigarettes to UK customers by exploiting an apparent gap in duty laws. His plan was to run smoke rings around British excise regulations by ‘selling’ a cigarette lighter for £24.99 and enclosing 200 ‘complimentary’ cigarettes or 250gm of ‘your favourite tobacco’ with every lighter sold from Brooks’ website, the cunningly disguised www.freefags.com But Customs officials indicated that the deal does not meet their definition of a gift. Since customers would pay indirectly for the smokes, they would still be liable for excise duty and the precious deliveries could be seized as they arrived on the nation’s doormats. Brooks had claimed that the fags were flying out of his Spanish empire but, after Customs’ interference, it seems that it was all too much for the businessman and he has extinguished his hot offer. The contact phone number is apparently now disconnected and so is the fax line, while at least one die-hard has been left holding the baby – cheques have been sent, but no cigarettes received. TS has, therefore, been left to deliver the sad news to that smokers who were planning to buy 200 fags on the cheap, will have to rely on more traditional methods for feeding their habits. It seems that Brooks’ idea has gone up in a puff of smoke.
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