Death was cigarette brand introduced in the United Kingdom in 1991 by entrepreneur BJ Cunningham


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Death Cigarette Brand - Tobacco Shopping Guide Online

Death was cigarette brand introduced in the United Kingdom in 1991 by entrepreneur BJ Cunningham, who established a company calling itself The Enlightened Tobacco Company.

The packaging was black, and featured a white skull and crossbones above the mandatory Government health warning. It marketed itself as the only brand that was completely honest about the dangers of cigarette smoking. It is worth noting that Death had no chemicals added, and as Cunningham remarked, "Mr Marlboro would tell you that he needs to put saltpetre in his cigarettes to stop them going out in the ash tray, while the real reason is so that they will burn more quickly. Death cigarettes do not contain saltpetre, and do NOT go out in the ash tray."

As part of his "chemical-free" approach, Cunningham initially wanted to have a black skull and crossbones on the body of the cigarette, or a black cigarette with a white logo. However, since either format would mean the use of a chemical ink, this approach was rejected. Instead, a watermark was used to produce a grey skull and crossbones on the white background. Further steps towards purity, included using only hemp paper to encase the pure tobacco. At this time, so called "low tar" cigarettes were substantially composed of treated, textured and chopped tobacco waste, with color, flavor, nicotine and tar added.

Publicity material included black posters with the characteristic white skull and crossbones and small black plastic tombstones bearing logos such as, "Let us be the nail in your coffin" and, "Too bad you're gonna die". Other merchandise included black leather jackets, long and short sleeved heavy cotton T-shirts and leather pouches. All of these are now extremely hard to come by.

Cunningham tried, for a few years, with the help of friends, to promote the brand through enlightened outlets, such as very fashionable shops, hotels, restaurants, tobacconists and Head shops, but was allegedly opposed by the major cigarette manufacturers, to the extent that tobacco wholesalers were warned that if they stocked Death, they would not be supplied with other high-demand products.

The company subsequently created a tax arbitrage scheme, offering cigarettes from Luxembourg to UK smokers, and allowed customers to buy its products by mail order, thus paying Luxembourg tobacco duty instead of higher UK taxes. The European Court of Justice eventually ruled in favor of the UK Customs and Excise, who insisted that customers had to personally transport the goods into the UK to avoid paying duties at the point of entry. This ruling effectively put an end to the Enlightened Tobacco Company.

From 1995 onwards, it became nearly impossible to purchase Death cigarettes as sales declined, and, on 14 September 1999, The Enlightened Tobacco Company was wound up


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