The last two cigarette factories in UK are to close with loss of around 1,500 jobs. Production is to move to Germany and Poland or Romania. Save our tobacco industry!
The factory produces 17 billion cigarettes per year and contributes £500m to the local economy. The company made £3.18 billion profits last year and is moving its operations to Eastern Europe to “make even more money”.
The Imperial Tobacco Company was created in 1901 through the amalgamation of 13 British tobacco and cigarette companies, including W.D. & H.O. Wills of Bristol, John Player & Sons of Nottingham, and 11 smaller companies, with other small companies coming onboard later. W.D. & H.O. Wills was the largest British tobacco manufacturer at that time. The W.D. & H.O. Wills name was still used for brands such as Embassy Number 1 until recently (perhaps up until the end of the 20th century). Imperial had factories in Bristol, London, Swindon, Dublin, Newcastle, Glasgow and abroad. The Newcastle factory closed in 1986 and the Bristol factory (which made cigars) closed in 1990. The Nottingham factory closed in 2016, marking the end of cigarette production in England. Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco was manufactured in Nottingham, England by Imperial Tobacco as were their cigarettes. Production has moved for example to Germany and Poland.
Cigarette maker JTI Gallaher (now Japanese owned) is to shut its factory in County Antrim with the loss of more than 800 jobs by around 2016. The JTI Gallaher factory in Ballymena is among the largest employers in Northern Ireland.
“Each year almost £60m is pumped into the local wage economy by JTI – from 2017 that will be over”
Sadly the JTI Gallaher factory in Ballymena closed in 2017, meaning the last UK-made cigarettes rolled off JTI production line. Wrightbus has bought the site left behind by tobacco giant JTI Gallaher.
Excuses by both Imperial and Gallaher about European Union cigarette packaging legislation are not relevant as that legislation will affect Poland and elsewhere in Europe too.
The Gallaher Tobacco Company was founded in 1857, whilst Imperial Tobacco’s roots can be traced back to 1877 and John Player. Imperial Tobacco (Imperial Brands plc) is the world’s fourth-largest international cigarette company measured by market share after Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco (BAT), and Japan Tobacco, and the world’s largest producer of cigars, fine-cut tobacco, and tobacco papers.
Cigarette companies have been quietly shutting down other factories in the UK, for example Gallaher shut its Oldham factory in around 2000 leading to the loss of 1000 jobs (incidentally employees at the Oldham factory were entitled to free cigarettes regularly), its Belfast plant in 1988 and its Port Talbot cigar factory in Wales in 1994. Imperial closed its cigar factory in Bristol in 2010. Imperial closed its Sheffield factory in 1989 and its Liverpool factory in 2006. The last cigarettes to be made in Britain were in 2017 and now no cigarettes are made in Great Britain at all.
House of Swan – Bryant and May merged with the Diamond Match Company in 1909. In 1927 British Match Corporation (BMC) was formed – a collaboration between Bryant & May and Swedish Match. In 1973 BMC acquired Wilkinson Sword Ltd and changed its name to Wilkinson Match Ltd. It retained Bryant & May as a separate, named business. In 1994 the Liverpool factory closed (the last match factory in the UK – their factories in Northern Ireland, Glasgow and Gloucester has already shut down) and match manufacturing was transferred to the Swedish Match factory in Tidaholm, Sweden. In 1997 Bryant & May Ltd changed its name to Swedish Match. In 2008 Swedish Match AB sold the UK business to Republic Technologies International. In 2009 Swedish Match UK Ltd changed its name to Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd. Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd also own European brands such as Zig Zag, OCB and JOB, as well as the Bryant and May Swan brand.Their head office remains in High Wycombe. Their cigarette papers and filters are made in their factories Europe in Spain, France and Austria. Swan Vesta matches are I assume still made in Sweden by Swedish Match. Swan filters and flints appear to be foreign made but I am not sure by whom, perhaps Swedish Match. Bryant and May also took over S.J. Moreland and Sons, who made and sold matches under the trade name England’s Glory in 1913 and Albright and Wilson and Maguire & Patterson. Wilkinson Sword was sold by Swedish match (all production is now in Germany, the UK factories having been closed down), as was confectionary company Vitafruit which has since closed down. Bryant and May also took over Collard & Kendall, Bell and Black, J. John Masters & Co. The Bryant and May name is no longer used, perhaps still belonging to Swedish Match. Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd do not appear to have any factories in the UK but pleasingly House of Swan lighter fluid is still made in the UK, but their other products unfortunately all appear to be foreign made – http://www.houseofswan.com
As far as I know there are no lighters made in the UK these days either.
Octavius Hunt are an industrial smokes and pyrotechnics manufacturer and now the only match manufacturer left in the UK and make specialist matches such as windproof and waterproof matches – http://www.octaviushunt.co.uk
Snuff, hand-rolling tobacco and pipe tobacco is still made in Britain, for example by:
Wilsons of Sharrow and Fribourg & Treyer snuff (made by Wilsons) is made in the UK (it says so on the tins). Wilsons snuff tins now seem to say “Made in England” rather than “Made in the UK” on them and Wilsons of Sharrow Irish Toast now appears to be called Irish No.22. Wilson products can be purchased on their website and are available in good tobacconists and elsewhere online such as at Black Swan Shoppe Limited of Scarborough. Some Wilsons products, such as their own brand cigarette papers, are foreign made. They also sell a variety of smoking related products from other manufacturers, most of which are foreign made, including some foreign made snuffs. Additionally they sell British made McChrystal’s snuffs, Dr. Rumney’s snuff (which Wilsons purchased from Imperial Tobacco in 2016) and Singleton’s snuff (which Wilsons also purchased from Imperial Tobacco in 2016) – http://sharrowmills-online.com
McChrystal’s snuff is made in the UK. In an email of 16th February 2015, they confirmed this to me and pointed out that they have been making snuff in the UK for 90 years – http://www.mcchrystals.co.uk
Radford Snuff is an old English snuff originally blended by J. Brumfit & Radford Tobacco Ltd of Harrow, London. Radford Snuff English type is now being made by German company Pöschl Tabak. Radford snuff is made in Germany under licence from J. Brumfit & Radford Tobacco Ltd. J. Brumfit & Radford Tobacco Ltd seem to still be a existing company but no longer manufacture themselves or in the UK and have it done for them in Germany. Pöschl also manufacture some products for Gawith Hoggarth (see below).
Samuel Gawith, make snuff and pipe tobacco in Kendal in the Lake District of Cumbria, England. They confirmed to me by email on 16th February 2015 that they still manufacture their snuff and pipe tobacco in England – http://www.samuelgawith.co.uk
There’s an interesting article about Samuel Gawith & Company here.
Gawith Hoggarth also manufactures snuff in Kendal in Cumbria (Gawith Hoggarth and Samuel Gawith are separate businesses originally set up by 2 brothers in the 1790s). As well as snuff, Gawith Hoggarth also make hand roiling tobacco, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco. Some Gawith Hoggarth products are made for them by Pöschl of Germany and so some Gawith Hoggarth products may be foreign made – http://www.gawithhoggarth.co.uk
Wikipedia suggests some of the above suppliers make under contract for others too and that brands such as ‘Mullins and Westbury‘ and ‘Jaxons‘ are made under contract by one of the above, and so they could be made in England if that is correct, but do check.
J. and H. Wilson (they don’t seem to have a website) have been part of Imperial Tobacco since 1953. The snuff was being made by their brand Ogden’s in Sheffield until 1989 or possibly much earlier, when production was moved to Ogden’s in Liverpool. The Liverpool factory was closed in 2006. The Liverpool factory also made pipe tobacco and Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco. The Hedges snuff brand also belongs to Imperial Tobacco I think. Although I have not been able to confirm it, I think Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco, Hedges snuff and J and H Wilson snuff are already foreign made.
There are also some pipes still made in the UK. The ones I know of, and there may be more, are:
Possibly Dr Plumb pipes, GBD pipes, and Orlik pipes by Cadogan are made in the UK, but you should check as I am not sure (lots of websites describe them as made in London or made in England, but that does not necessarily mean they are) – http://www.cadogan-gifts.co.uk
The story of Dunhill pipes is confusing and seemingly rather secretive on the internet. Possibly Alfred Dunhill Limited pipes and smoking accessories are still made and sold under the name The White Spot (their website is discreetly branded Alfred Dunhill at the bottom of the page). It is even possibly they still make some products in England (on the internet I found reference to a factory in London; it is suggested that Parker Hardcastle Briar Pipes Mfrs. and Dunhill Pipes & Smokers Requisites share the same the address and telephone number – is this still a factory though?). It is also suggested on the internet that Parker Hardcastle Briar and Pipes / Parker of London (selling Dunhill seconds) are still manufactured in London. It is also said that Ben Wade pipes, now belonging to Duncan Briars, are made there too. One website of Ben Wade pipes it says ‘every pipe is stamped “Ben Wade, Made in London, England”‘. Dunhill cigarettes are made by British American Tobacco (BAT) so must be foreign made. I am no expert on pipes and found the Dunhill and related companies provenance impossible to be certain of, so do check before buying.
Pipedia lists numerous British pipe brands and makers, but of course just having a British origin does not necessarily mean the pipe brands listed there are actually made in England.
If you use or are thinking of using electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes or ECs or electric cigarettes) and vaping (as it is currently referred to – an alternative to smoking traditional tobacco products), like any tobacco product, you’ll want to ensure safety and quality and buying British made would give you this.
Liberty Flights XO E-liquid is made in Britain, using UK sourced pharmaceutical grade nicotine and bases. The Original Range of liquid is imported. As they do not say that the e-cigarettes they sell are made in the UK, I assume the devices themselves are foreign made. There’s a video from the company and another explaining how e-cigarettes work below – http://www.liberty-flights.co.uk
Blu e-cigatettes are made in China whilst Blu e-liquid is made in the USA.
Ten Motives e-liquid is made in the UK. At the top of their website it says “top quality e-liquids made in the UK”. Their devices and their electronic disposable e-cigarettes are made in China. 10 Motives disposable electronic cigarettes are made in China but do contain UK made e-liquid. Ten Motives are now owned by British American Tobacco. Unlike all other electronic cigarettes the Ten Motives disposable electronic cigarette pictured below does not seem to leak e-liquid – https://www.10motives.com
Vapouriz say on their website “All our E-Liquid is manufactured by us, here in the UK in ISO Class 7 Certified Clean rooms”. Again, as no mention is made of where their actual e-cigarettes are made, I assume they are foreign made – http://www.vapouriz.co.uk
blu® Liquids are made in the U.S.A
88 Vape (Vape Nation Limited) make some of their e-liquids in the UK, but others are made in China (check the packaging). Their accessories and e-cigarettes are made in China. For example 88 Vape fancy flavours, like say blueberry, are made in the UK, as is their rolling leaf e-liquid. They say in their website “At Vapanation we have taken the step from being a successful Brand Owner and Importer to high quality Manufacturer in the UK. Products are available from their website and I have also seen them in Poundland – http://www.88vape.co.uk
Infinity Mist 100% VG base E-liquids are UK Made. I saw these in my local corner shop. Their website is under construction (as of 5 August 2017) but they are on twitter – http://infinitymist.co.uk https://twitter.com/Infinity_Mist
SMOKO e-liquids are UK made. They say on their website “e-liquids with the highest quality, pharmacutical-grade ingredients all sourced from within the EU, then they are mixed and manufactured in the UK” and “we are proud to say all of our e-liquids are Made in the UK.” Again, their actual e-cigarettes I assume are foreign made – https://smoko.com
Freshcig say their “vapour liquid is manufactured by us in the UK within a dedicated ISO Class 8 clean room facility.” Again, their electronic cigarettes themselves are foreign made – http://www.freshcig.co.uk
Decadent Vapours are a manufacturer e-liquid. “Choose from over 150 sweet and savory flavours, all UK made” according to their website. They only sell e-liquids and not e-cigarettes – http://decadentvapours.com
Vvapour say on their website “ALL our e-liquids are completely made in the UK using sterilized equipment, certified pharmaceutical grade ingredients and without compromise.” Their actual cigarettes are presumably foreign made – http://vvapour.co.uk
UK Vapour Brands, owners of The Electronic Cigarette Company (TECC), Joyetech, Eleaf UK, Odyssey Premium Vaping System, Wismec, and Totally Wicked produce some of their e-liquids in the UK – Totally Wicked Red Label e-liquid, Diavlo e-liquid are UK made – TECC say they “only use UK manufactured pharmaceutical grade nicotine from our trusted suppliers” and their Titus CC E-Liquid, Titus ADV E-Liquid, and Totally Wicked Red Label are UK made – Odyssey Premium Vaping System e-cigarettes and e-liquids are made in the UK. Other UK Vapour Brands e-liquids and e-cigartetes appear to be foreign made.
E Liquid Emporium e-liquid is all manufactured in the UK, and includes flavours such as Golden Virginia, Strawberries and Cream, and Vanilla and Custard. Just e-liquids and not e-cigarettes – http://eliquidemporium.co.uk
“Witches‘ Brew eLiquid is manufactured from 100% UK ingredients, in our purpose built Clean Room facility in Lancashire” according to their website. As with most other suppliers their actual e-cigarettes are foreign made – http://witcheliquid.co.uk
Puritane e-cigarettes are “filled and packed in the UK” and the e-cigarettes themselves I assume made in China, whilst the liquid is made in mainland Europe. The company belongs to Fontem Ventures of the Netherlands which is part of Imperial Tobacco (although strangely this is not mentioned anywhere on their website). It says on their website “Skilfully designed and expertly created in the UK, Puritane e-cigarettes are developed by industry specialists to deliver a smooth taste tailored specifically to the British palette” which to my mind implies UK manufacture but that is not the case; they are only filled and packed in the UK – https://uk.puritane.eu/united-kingdom/home
There are plenty more e-liquids that are made in the UK but I do not know of any UK made vaporisers (actual e-cigarttes) except the Odyssey e-cigarettes mentioned above.
The above video discusses whether e-cigarettes are safe or not. There are concerns about the chemicals contained in e-cigarettes, for example in the findings talked about in this article – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/28/japan-e-cigarette-safety
Travel Tip – If you are travelling by plane with an e-cigarette you may find this link helpful – http://www.gatwick-airport-guide.co.uk/e-cigarettes.html
Also, if you are travelling with an e-cigarette – Consider taking a sealed new bottle of e-liquid, as once opened bottles may leak. Consider emptying the tank before flying. Air cabin pressure can sometimes cause tanks/clearomisers to leak. The strong sweet smell of e-liquid is annoying, even if it only leaks a little (not to mention it’s sticky and toxic). Bring your charger and plug, and an adaptor if needed. Ensure your battery fully charged so that you can turn it on as this may be required. You should not need to disassemble your EC. Place in a self-sealing see-though plastic bag and take as carry-on, as required by airport security if travelling by air. Vaping is forbidden in some countries. In Dubai for example, e-cigarettes have been confiscated during both transit and departure. There’s an interactive map here. You may need to consider an alternative, such as smoking, snuff or giving up. E-Liquid may turn dark in sunlight or possibly heat. Try to keep your EC upright when travelling around generally and consider a case of some kind to keep it clean and perhaps catch at least part of any spillages.
Whilst I advocate manufacturing should take place in the UK, tobacco itself is all grown abroad, because tobacco has never been grown commercially in the UK. For example, Toque snuff is manufactured in the UK and the tobacco comes from America, Poland, Africa, India and Pakistan.
Increased anti-smoking legislation and declining tobacco sales in the UK may be partly to blame for cigarette companies closing their UK factories, but shifting production outside of the UK is socially irresponsible and just about profit with no care for the community. The UK remains a very large and very profitable market for companies like Imperial Tobacco and JTI Gallaher.
British smokers should stand up and say they want to buy tobacco products that are made in Britain. Non smokers will understand that closing factories only harms British jobs and the British economy.
Politicians should intervene and stop the closures of cigarette factories. Give companies subsidies or tax refunds. Don’t shy away from saving peoples’ livelihoods and communities because you want to stop smoking. It’ll carry on anyway. The JTI Gallaher factory in Ballymena is among the largest employers in Northern Ireland.
Perhaps Unions and management could buy the factories? Let’s look at imaginative ways to save these jobs both now and in the long term. Nationalise the industry? Stop foreign companies buying British brands and then closing the British factories down!
It’s not too late to save the 2 factories I have written about above. Write to JTI Gallaher and Imperial Tobacco and tell them why you want production to remain in the UK. Start an #SaveTheBritishTobaccoIndustry on twitter. Write to your MP. Discuss the issues over a nice a nice cuppa. But please protest against these closures.