Friday, 26 March 2010
The depth of lunacy.
Some smokers will know what that is. Especially those who venture into more exotic forms of smoking.
That is a pack of 'Rips', which is a continuous roll of rolling paper with gum along one edge. You pull out the length you want and rip it off. With this, you can make a quick two-puffer or something that needs a tripod to smoke. Any length of smoke you want.
Which kind of wrecks the latest Labour lunacy, spotted by Manwiddicombe, in which longer cigarettes are to be taxed as if each one was two. Or more than two, if they're really long. You could be paying double or triple duty on those Superkings.
From January 1 next year, any cigarette longer than 8cm – excluding the tip – will be treated as another cigarette and have extra duty slapped imposed on it. For each additional 3cm, or part thereof, it will be treated as yet another cigarette.
This means that a 12cm cigarette, for example, will be treated as three cigarettes.
Three centimetres or part thereof. That's the taxable unit of cigarette. If your favourite brand is 8.1 cm (excluding filter) you pay double duty. If it's 11.1 cm, you pay triple duty. For any fraction of 3 cm over your alloted tobacco ration you're going to pay another lot of duty. With VAT on top.
If you smoke long readymades, start practising rolling. You can get filters, even menthol ones, and there are a range of tobaccos available. They don't all taste the same.
Then get a pack of Rips and roll them as long as you like.
Oh, and find yourself one of those 'continent visitors' too. Packet tobacco seems more easily available than readymades, although that might be because I haven't looked for readymades. As the duty goes up and up, the range of tobacco with incomprehensible warnings on the pack will increase along with the price differential.
Soon it won't matter whether the UK stuff comes in grey packets from behind a screen. Nobody will be buying it from there.
If you live on the continent and feel like a visit to the UK, you will soon be able to fund your entire trip with a bag full of baccy.
The changes come as part of this week's Budget's "Enforcement and Compliance" measures. An HMRC spokesman said that the technical change "is designed to stop a tax avoidance method".
Tax avoidance? If you like longer cigarettes, you buy longer ones. If you don't like longer cigarettes, buying the long ones is silly because you'll just end up wasting half of it. Nobody smokes Superkings as a 'tax avoidance method'. They smoke them because they like them.
As for 'enforcement and compliance', Chancellor, you can ram that into a sunless orifice so hard that it will make your eyebrows change places. Then twist it. You are not there to enforce your personal morality on this country. You are there to run the infrastructure and enforce actual, real laws. Ones that make sense.
Compliance? Not from me, matey. You hate me, remember? You have declared war on me. You despise my smoking and drinking and salt and fat and practically everything else about me. You have empowered an army of fake-coughing whiners to insult and berate me whenever they feel like it and have left me no recourse in the face of this blatant discrimination. You have forced me outdoors and then followed me out there to berate me some more. Now you plan to follow me home and push me around inside my own house. Compliance? With the self-declared enemy? Never.
If, one day, I have to set up an indoor tobacco farm, I will do it and you are not dealing with a simple chav here. You won't find it, and any inspector who does find it will be fertilising it. When that day comes, just remember who started this war.
None of these 'enforced compliance' ideas will reduce smoking. None of them will prevent children taking it up. They will make tobacco irresistible to children because it will be the ultimate act of rebellion. How will they hear about it if it is hidden away? Dick Puddlecote has the answer. Every one of these measures will a) increase smoking prevalence, b) encourage children to experiment with smoking and c) reduce the income from duty.
If anyone feels like trying to explain this to an antismoker or a politician, be my guest. I prefer a softer wall to bang my head on.
Posted by Leg-iron at 21:40