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     Due to the inanity of the British Government, tobacco products taxation is way out of line with other European countries. In Spain and Belgium the tobacco resale price is under Government control. The European directive is to enforce taxation to cut down on the number of smokers. Spain and Belgium have significantly more smokers per capita than ohter countries, thus the price of tobacco is politically sensitive. They keep putting the price up but not in leaps and bounds. So, a sleeve of Golden Virginia at over 13 per 50 grams in England is 4.50 in Belgium. The UK Government guidelines for bringing tobacco into the UK from another EU Country is 3 kilos (60 sleeves) of hand rolling tobacco, 16,000 cigarettes, 10 litres of spirits, 90 litres of wine etc. So, a coach trip to Belgium at 39 to buy 60 sleeves of Golden Virginia means you pay about 5.10 per sleeve including the cost of the trip. It is well worth it if you can afford to buy your next 1 years supply in 1 go. A pal of CB did this in 2009 and, having smoked most of it, wanted to go again. He booked with Avista travel in Chesterfield in 2009, paying by a debit card and all was well. The trip started at 20.15 on a Friday evening in South Yorkshire, getting back at 17.30 the next day. The crossing was by ferry, where immigration is encountered in Calais and customs in Dover. Customs did not check them out that time. Last month he phoned Avista and booked. He was told they did not take payment by card any more and that he would have to pay cash on the coach at Chesterfield. On arriving to catch the coach he was told they were full and his seat, organised 2 weeks earlier, was not available. Any company moving from standard practice trading to cash only MUST be a target for HM Inland Revenue. The "fly by night" approach to business also suggests that the baccy smugglers are using this service (they sell GV for 7.50 a sleeve in pubs and it is ILLEGAL to import baccy to sell it). CB's pal, suitably miffed, will be sending this information to BOTH those agencies.
    Now, CB's pal, being a man who just wanted to get his next 12 months baccy in stock wanted another travel firm to use. One in West Yorkshire had stopped doing the trip. One in Nottingham never answered either their emails OR their phone. CB's pal found coachinnovations.com in Birmingham. He booked, paid by card on the phone and went with them. Pick up was at 19.00 Friday evening in Birmingham in a double decker left hand drive coach (specially for extended continental driving). Tea and coffee were available all through the trip. The drive was to Ashford, then channel tunnel. They arrived in Ashford at 23.30 for the 00.46 train. It was cancelled and they finally got a train at 03.26. The Channel Tunnel operators were like total amateurs. The coach driver kept the passengers informed at every stage. They went to Adinkerke in Belgium. The tobacco sellers there had been rationing customers to 1.5 kilos due to stock shortage BUT, CB's pal, having seen this on the internet, advised Coachinnovations and they had phoned up for their customers. All got their full 3 kgs of baccy, no rationing! The deal here is that the Birmingham people are professional travel organisers, well worth using. They are responsible people who ask you NOT to exceed the guidline quantities, in other words they do not want to break the law and cater to genuine shoppers and not the smugglers. They have a web site which you can see at www.coachinnovations.com. CB's pal also got some Grants scotch (3 litres at 12.70 per litre) so a good trip was had. On the return journey, using the chunnel, both immigration and customs are in Calais. The coach driver gave careful advice on the fastest and most efficient way to progress through immigration and, following his advice, customs was never encountered. The way to fast, efficient cheap baccy is via Birmingham. Coachinnovations also do other holidays, go to the site and have a look. CB's pal likes the look of the 6 night trip to northern Spain. When doing the Belgium shopper, take about 4 sandwiches with you, a roll of toilet paper is also a good idea. Be prepared to arrive back in Birmingham before or at lunchtime on Saturday. As to the UK Government, do they not see that to set the tobacco duty nearer to that of Spain and Belgium will NOT make more people smoke but it MIGHT fill the revenues coffers more if it was affordable in England?

UPDATE

Coachinnovations.co.uk
are now offering for only 109 a trip to the Grand Burstin Hotel in Folkestone Harbour, 3 nights, bed, breakfast and evening meal, nightly cabaret and 99p bar from 19.30 till 23.00 (not in the cabaret room but you CAN cheat)! One (short)  day in Ostend, what a lovely place! CB went, not the best hotel ever but, at the price, what do you want? Food was crap but they are feeding 1200 people within 2 hours so, wait and watch, when they bring the new stuff, get that, it will be hot, if you miss it, it will be warm. Deal is, ferry to Belgium Saturday and baccy, todays guidelines, 1 Kg baccy EACH AND 800 ciggies EACH, so, 2 of you is 2 Kgs  baccy and 1600 ciggies. If you go Sunday, same again, so 3200 ciggies but 4 kgs of baccy total over 2 days, maths is easy. I only get my needs (baccy wise) but all female offers gratefully considered (too old to have you on top with a gravestone too). Coachinnovations are running the trip once a month from October so use their website, that is why it is there, and take my recommendation. Read the latest post number 91 on the news page for a better info.

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The JSC Group March 2006