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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Cigarettes: Meaning of 'description' or 'brand' for duty purposes

“Description”, as used in section 4 of the “Tobacco Products Duty Act”, is normally taken to mean an individual brand of cigarettes. Packets of twenty, eighteen or ten cigarettes of the same brand make a single ‘description’ for duty purposes.

Any requests for different treatment, eg packets of 25 of the same basic brand but of a different ‘get up’ or description should be referred to the Tobacco Team, Ralli Quays.

If a brand of cigarettes is sold only in one pack size, the ad valorem duty element will be based on the retail price for the brand in question.

Where cigarettes of the same brand are sold in a range of pack sizes, which include a 20 size pack, the ad valorem duty on all cigarettes of that brand should be calculated on the retail price of the twenty size pack. It follows that the ad valorem element of the duty on, for example, a pack of eighteen cigarettes is calculated as a ratio, based on the recommended retail price for the 20 pack.

You should contact the Tobacco Team, Ralli Quays for advice if a manufacturer or importer proposes selling cigarettes in two or more pack sizes, which do not include a 20 size pack.

Only one recommended retail price can apply throughout the UK for any one brand at any one time. A price reduction is acceptable for duty purposes only if the new price is recommended for all UK sales of the brand.