What is illegal tobacco?

Illegal, or illicit, tobacco is smuggled, bootlegged or counterfeit, sold cheaply and tax-free and often linked to large-scale organised crime.

  • Smuggled - Generally legitimately manufactured products, but illegally transported, brought into and sold in the UK.
  • Bootlegged - Purchased legally in quantity in a country with low taxation and illegally brought into and sold in the UK.
  • Counterfeit - Manufactured illegally from inferior materials. More often manufactured abroad, but sometimes in the UK.

Help stamp it out!

It can be the crime you don't see, but criminal gangs often use local shops to sell cheap illegal cigarettes and tobacco - and the proceeds fund serious and organised crime.

Cigarette packets generic_Sep13_261

The REAL price of illegal tobacco

  • The cheap price makes it attractive to the young and vulnerable, exposing them to criminal activity.
  • Tobacco smuggling is often organised by criminal gangs and the profits fund more serious crimes.

How you can help

  • We don't want to know your name
  • We don't want to know your address
  • We cannot trace your phone call, or your computer
  • We are an independent charity
  • You won't have to go to court
  • We will never know who you are - and we don't want to

Make a stand and contact us anonymously free, without having to go to the police:
Fill in our simple online form or call 0800 555 111

Fight for a safer community and give us your information about retailers or individuals selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

 

Don't be one of the 15%  

Illegal Tobacco Visual

A 2014 survey* of more than 12,000 people showed that:

  • 29% of them were aware of illicit tobacco being sold near them
  • Only 14% of them reported it.
  • That's 15% that could have got in touch with us and helped reduce the profits to serious and organised crime gangs - give us your information, and don't be one of them.

 * Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association AIT Poll 2014

Your information can make a difference:

  • Earlier this year, more than one million suspected illicit cigarettes were seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), supported by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards team and Border Force, during an operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco in Birmingham and Smethwick.
  • An operation in October last year to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco in Cardiff uncovered more than 130,000 cigarettes and 100 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco.
  • Earlier this summer, HMRC and Glasgow City Council Trading Standards discovered a total of 16,500 cigarettes and 3.5 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco during a two-day joint operation to tackle the illegal supply of illicit tobacco.

Fill in our simple online form or call 0800 555 111

Find out more about our current campaign

It's NOT a victimless crime

“While some will see illicit tobacco as a victimless crime, I can strongly reject this - with this campaign highlighting the impact it has on our communities.

“The links this trade has to serious organised crime and gangs are very real, which has a detrimental effect on your community and the lives of their victims.

“I urge you to look beyond just the issue of illicit tobacco, and to the major impact it has on funding serious crimes, which are linked to causing harm in your community. Tell us anonymously who’s selling it, and help stop the crimes you don’t see.”

- Roger Critchell, our Director of Operations

If you have any information on individuals or retailers selling illicit tobacco then please contact us: Fill in our simple online form or call 0800 555 111

Different types of illegal tobacco

Smuggled tobacco

These are "new" brands of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco – also known as 'cheap whites'. Cheap whites cannot legitimately be brought into or sold in the UK.
Smuggled tobacco examples_Sep13_550

How to spot them:

  • Unrecognisable names, e.g.: Jin Ling, Raquel, Gold Classic, Richman, Capital, Camelford
  • Foreign language health warning
  • No picture in the health warning
  • Unusual taste or smell
  • Prices usually less than £3.50 for a pack of 20

Bootlegged tobacco

These are premium well-known tobacco brands from countries where tax is lower than the UK. They are illegally brought into the UK and sold without payment of UK duty and tax.
Bootlegged tobacco examples_Sep13_239
How to spot them:

  • Popular brands such as Marlboro or Superkings
  • Foreign language health warnings
  • Prices usually less than £3.50 for a pack of 20

Counterfeit tobacco

Popular brands which have been reproduced in large quantities and made to look like the real thing.

Counterfeit tobacco example2_Sep13_230 Counterfeit tobacco example3_Sep13_230
Health warnings on genuine packs only ever have a plain white background The print on the genuine Marlboro is sharper. The fake is missing finer detail

How to spot them:

  • Popular brands such as Lambert & Butler, Marlboro and Benson & Hedges
  • Foreign language / discoloured background on health warning
  • No picture in the health warning
  • Inferior paper, ink, card and glue may be noticeable
  • Printing errors, incorrect typeface, spelling mistakes
  • Unusual taste or smell
  • Prices usually less than £3.50 for a pack of 20
Fill in our simple online form or call 0800 555 111