Description and history
Entrepreneur BJ Cunningham invested his life savings to create and market an additive-free smoking product called Death. He founded the Enlightened Tobacco Company in 1991. Its product disclosed its hazardous nature by prominently displaying skull and crossbones on its outer package and came in two varieties; Death, and Death Lights. The product was marketed to the “young underground punk rock” consumer market. The products were sold for a time via mail order from Luxembourg to avoid the United Kingdom's excise tax, however after some time the Customs and Excise department disallowed this sales channel.
The company's plans to offer sponsorship to the Pacific Racing F1 in 1994 fell through after Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna were killed at the San Marino Grand Prix. That year the company was turned down by the "top five poster contractors" who would not provide the company with permission to use their sites because of its "blunt" marketing message and a pending parliamentary bill restricting tobacco advertising.
The company "was losing a million pounds per year" and could not afford a massive advertising campaign. The firms trademark rights were successfully challenged by an alcohol company called Black Death. The impending lawsuit barred the sale of Death cigarettes and the company closed down.
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- To the Best of Our Knowledge 12/31/2006: Wisconsin public radio interview with Boz Temple-Morris, co-founder and Marketing Director for the Enlightened Tobacco Company.