Tobacco is prepared from the leaves of the tobacco plant, either from Nicotiana tabacum or the more potent Nicotiana rustica.
Today, various types of tobacco are used to create a vast number of products, including cigars and cigarettes. Some smokers, however, prefer to make their own cigarettes.
There are a few advantages to rolling your own cigarettes, although it can be a hassle. When you make your own cigarettes, you can pick and choose the “ingredients” you prefer – the filter, the rolling paper and, most importantly, the tobacco.
The other great advantage of rolling your own cigarettes is the cost. The price of cigarettes and tobacco both vary, but in general, it can be said that you can save a great deal by rolling your own cigarettes.
The aim of this guide is to compare the prices of tobacco available at various online and offline shops, with an emphasis on duty-free shops, in order to help you find the best deal available.
UPDATE: Coupon codes for duty free tobacco are at the bottom! Scroll down to get the temporary coupon codes, while they are still valid. New coupon codes are posted regularly.
Types of tobacco – pipe tobacco and rolling tobacco
There are two genera of tobacco, the tabacum and the rustica, but there are several variations of the tobacco plant, mostly based on the terrain and the climate of the location where it grows.
The most well-known types are Virginia, Brightleaf tobacco grown in sandy, highland soils and the Burley tobacco, originating from Ohio.
Apart from the variations in the plants itself, the way the tobacco is prepared results in differences between the products as well. The Cavendish, for example, is not a type of tobacco but a method of cutting and curing. There are four main ways to cure tobacco: air-curing, fire-curing, flue-curing and sun-curing.
Rolling tobaccos and pipe tobaccos are not necessarily made from different types of plants, though the milder Virginia is mainly used in the former and White Burley more in the latter.
Rolling tobacco is more fine cut and burns hot and fast, while the coarser and moister pipe tobacco is generally fire-cured and releases its flavors more slowly.
Airport shops are among the most popular places to buy duty-free tobacco products. Duty-free tobacco products could, in theory, be cheaper than other kinds of stores, as they are exempt from VAT and other types of taxes.
However, this is often not the case!
Due to the differences in exchange rates and the high profit margins, the prices they offer are often higher than those you can find at regular brick and mortar retailers.
/This is true for cigarettes, for example. See the price comparison of cigarettes here./
Although there are many types of cigars and cigarettes available at airport duty-free shops, very few of them offer rolling or pipe tobacco. Fortunately, there are also online duty-free shops offering many kinds of cheap tobacco products with free international shipping.
The online duty-free shop I use has both pipe tobacco and rolling tobacco available and offers free shipping. You can check out their selection here.
Be careful with other online shops because many don’t offer free shipping and the tobacco products appear to be seemingly cheaper but once you add the cost of shipping you will end up paying more!
/Apart from checking the prices themselves, you should also be mindful that buying tobacco products online is not legal in every country. Make sure you are not breaking the law. Also, you must be 18+ to purchase tobacco online./
Buying tobacco online
The best option for buying cheap tobacco products is most likely ordering it online, as there are several advantages to this method.
Online duty-free tobacco shops generally offer a much wider selection than traditional, brick and mortar retailers. Even if your favorite tobacco is a more exotic type, you will be sure to find an online tobacco shop selling it.
Another advantage of buying online if you are looking to buy cheap tobacco is that it is quite easy to do a price comparison (always add the cost of shipping!).
I compared the price of Natural American Spirit hand rolling tobacco at an online duty free shop, at a brick and mortar store and at a duty free shop.
Online duty free shop – £1,87 / 10g
Brick and mortar retailer (TESCO) – £3,77 / 10g
Duty free shop at an airport (South Africa) – £3,88 / 10g
As you can see from the price comparison, rolling tobacco is by far the cheapest in an online duty free shop. It cost the double at Tesco and at duty free shops at airports.
This is contrary to how brick & mortar duty free shop advertise themselves. But the truth is, they are not cheap at all, and in many cases they are even more expensive than local stores! (More info about this can be found here.)
/Even though the comparison only shows one brand, this is true for almost all of them. You can easily do a price comparison to check it./
Due to not being physically present at the transaction, buyers face the risk of shops scamming them when buying tobacco online. There are some clues you should pay attention to in order to avoid being cheated in any way.
There are two things to keep in mind. The first one is whether the shop accepts credit cards. Online shops selling cheap tax-free tobacco that accept only alternative payment methods such as Bitcoin and other anonymous payment methods are most likely a scam.
You should also check out whether the website is well-maintained – uncurated websites with no social media presence that haven’t been updated for years are much more likely to be scams.
Duty-free allowances for tobacco
You can find the duty-free allowances for tobacco here: Duty-free, tax free guide with allowances (sorted by country).
Certain countries seize your order if it exceeds the limit on duty free products. The UK, and to a lesser extent the US is notorious for this. In those two countries we definitely do not recommend ordering more than the duty free allowance.
Legal issues with buying tobacco online
Ordering tobacco from online duty-free shops is, in general, perfectly legal (unless ordering tobacco online is illegal in your country, must be 18+) However, just make sure you always check out the local laws on importing tobacco products before you buy tobacco online.
If you fail to comply with your country’s or state’s tobacco regulation, your order may be seized. If your shipment is seized, contact the retailer you bought the cigars from; even if it was uninsured many online cigar shops offer some form of recompense.
The shop I recommend offers a form of insurance to protect buyers. If you decide to pay some extra, your order will be guaranteed to be delivered again if it happens to be seized by customs, free of charge. I strongly suggest using this insurance if you bulk order.
You should also pay attention to the allowances on tobacco products in your country. You can find the duty free allowances here, at the bottom.
Duty-free tobacco coupon codes
Duty-free shops regularly offer discount codes for tobacco. You can find the latest coupon codes here.
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Last updated: 2016-08-06
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