Death was the brand name for a cigarette introduced in the United Kingdom in 1991 by BJ Cunningham of The Enlightened Tobacco Company. The cigarette featured black packaging with a white skull and crossbones logo above their government health warning.
Description and history
Death cigarettes were touted as free of chemical additives such as saltpeter. This 'chemical-free' approach included using a hemp cigarette paper with an ink free, watermark of a gray skull and crossbones logo.
Death's "truth in marketing" approach was to highlight the dangers of cigarette smoking. Publicity materials included the logo and small black plastic tombstones with epitaphs. The company also sold merchandise such as black leather jackets, T-shirts and leather pouches with the company logo.
Slogans on the packaging and promotional materials included phrases such as "Let Us Be The Nail In Your Coffin" and "The Grim Reaper Don't Come Cheaper".
Death was initially marketed and distributed through shops, hotels, restaurants, tobacconists and head shops but proved to be unsuccessful allegedly due to interference from its competitors.
Subsequent approaches included marketing the cigarettes from Luxembourg and allowing UK customers to buy the product by mail order to avoid paying UK cigarette taxes and duties. However, in a court case involving UK Customs and Excise, the European Court of Justice ruled that customers must personally transport the cigarettes in order to avoid paying UK duties at the point of entry.
From 1995 onwards sales of the cigarette declined and the Enlightened Tobacco Company was closed in September 1999.
- To the Best of Our Knowledge 12/31/2006: Interview with Boz Temple-Morris, co-founder and Marketing Director for the Enlightened Tobacco Company (last segment of the recorded interview).
- The Death Cigarette Trademark Infringement Litigation Case