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Illegal Tobacco

What is illegal tobacco?

There are different types of illegal tobacco:

  1. Cigarettes sold as singles instead of in a packet of 20
  2. Smuggled, non-duty paid (often includes packets with foreign language or no health warnings)
  3. Counterfeit/fake (looks like well-known brands but is manufactured illegally)
  4. ‘Cheap whites’ (produced in one country for smuggling into another)

What's wrong with illegal tobacco?

  • Illegal tobacco is cheaper and so its availability makes it easier for children and young people to start smoking and get hooked at a young age
  • Availability of cheap or illegal tobacco makes it harder for smokers to quit
  • It brings crime into local communities
  • Some illegal cigarettes are not fire safe because, unlike legal cigarettes, they do not extinguish by themselves if left unattended, making them much more likely to cause a fire

How do I recognise illegal tobacco?

The telltale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • Packets being sold with no picture health warnings
  • Packets being sold with foreign language health warnings
  • Stock kept out of sight in shops and away from the regular tobacco display cabinet
  • Low cost compared to normal cigarettes
  • Unusual or foreign brand names
  • Availability in unusual locations, such as pubs, market stalls, ice cream or fast food vans, outside shops, private homes, and high footfall areas
  • Premises that sell single cigarettes, often to young people or children

How do I report it?

If you suspect illegal tobacco or single cigarettes being sold, you can report it anonymously to Hackney Trading Standards on 020 8356 4929 (choose option 2) or via email to trading.standards@hackney.gov.uk. You can also call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or report it on the London Trading Standards website.