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Consumers

Illegal tobacco


Illegal tobacco is causing harm to our communities in the South West.

Sale of it supports organised crime, encourages smokers to continue smoking, encourages children to try smoking and keeps money from vital services.

If you think someone is selling illegal tobacco, you can help stop the harm it’s causing by reporting it. Your information can help keep our communities safe and healthy.

Report illegal tobacco

You can help stop the harm illegal tobacco causes. If you see or hear of it for sale, report it to us to help us put a stop to it.

Report illegal tobacco now >

What is illegal tobacco?

Illegal tobacco, sometimes called illicit, includes:

  • illicit whites – products mass-manufactured to be illegally imported and sold in the UK without duty being paid
  • counterfeit cigarettes – illegally manufactured imitations of established brands
  • genuine cigarettes that are smuggled into the country without duty being paid

What harm does it cause?

Illegal tobacco products harm individuals and communities in many ways. They:

  • cost the UK over £2 billion in unpaid tax every year – money which should be going to fund vital services like schools and hospitals
  • are sold at ‘pocket money prices’, which encourages children to start smoking
  • are cheap, which doesn’t dissuade current smokers to quit
  • fund organised crime such as human trafficking
  • often lack the ability to self-extinguish if left unsmoked, posing a fire risk (while all lit tobacco products pose a fire risk if not extinguished properly, legal cigarettes have a safety feature to help them self-extinguish to reduce this risk)
  • are unregulated so there is no way of knowing what harmful ingredients they contain

How to spot it

Illegal tobacco has been seen for sale in many places such as:

  • shops
  • private houses
  • pubs and clubs
  • Facebook buy, sell and swap group pages
  • car-boot sales
  • on the street

Look for:

  • packaging that is not plain olive green
  • a lack of health warnings
  • text on the packet that is not in English
  • cheap prices
  • unknown brands


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