Pembroke: Roll up, roll up

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The Independent Online
THE ENLIGHTENED TOBACCO COMPANY, which launched the much-publicised Death cigarettes two years ago, is raising cash through the Business Expansion Scheme and adding another brand to its portfolio. Death Lights, a low-tar, low-nicotine cigarette, is to be launched this year in a striking white packet with a black embossed skull and crossbones logo.

What's the point, you might think? 'We want to consolidate the brand and give honest smokers a choice - death or slow death,' explains managing director 'BJ' Cunningham cheerfully.

Loss-making but claiming to sell a million cigarettes a week, ETC is raising pounds 850,000 (closing date is Friday the 13th) to improve distribution and help reach its bold ambition of a 0.079 per cent of the UK's pounds 9bn baccy market. 'We've got good wholesale distribution but not good retail distribution,' says 'BJ'. 'We need a sales force to physically get the fags on the shelves.'

PETER DAVIS, chairman and chief executive of Reed Elsevier, clearly found yesterday's inaugural results meetings more taxing than expected. He had to cut the meetings short to dash off for an osteopath's appointment at noon after injuring his back while sailing in North Wales over the weekend. 'I just pulled on something a little too heavily,' he explains. 'The lunchtime appointment was the only one I could get.'

NEWS OF A REPORT, The Market for Condoms, reaches our desk. The 166-page survey analyses global trade in condoms and estimates it at a mind-boggling 8.5 billion units. In Japan, where brands include Wrinkle Zero-0, and one company sells condoms from door to door, men use an average of five each per year. This might not sound a lot but we are told that it equates to 600 million units.

CAN THIS be a coincidence? A mere five days after Colin Forsyth, a director of London United Investments, wrote to Michael Heseltine to complain about the lack of progress with the Government's three-year investigation into the insolvent insurance group, the inspectors have completed their report.

The news reached Mr Forsyth on the same day the Independent reported his suspicion that the report was being sat upon.

Still, completed is one thing, published is another. Mr Forsyth, and others concerned with Britain's biggest insurance insolvency, must hope the completed report does not disappear into the vortex of the DTI.