Illegal tobacco


The sale of illegal tobacco is a criminal offence.

Illegal tobacco products are cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco (HRT) that have been either:

  • Smuggled: foreign brands illegally brought into the UK
  • Bootlegged (duty frees): foreign products brought into the UK in illegal quantities and / or resold in the UK
  • Counterfeit: fake packaging (cheap / low quality foreign cigarettes / HRT packed to look like premium UK brands)

How to spot illegal tobacco 

  • Low price: if you are paying less than £6 for 20 cigarettes or under £20 for 50gm HRT chances are it's illegal tobacco
  • If you purchase tobacco from non traditional suppliers, for example:
    • friends
    • colleagues at work or in pubs / clubs
    • car boot sales
    • tab houses
    • etc
  • Foreign language on packs
  • No warnings on packs or the warnings are in a foreign language
  • Unfamiliar brands
  • Printing errors or poor spelling on packs
  • Complaints about taste

If you are aware of the sale of illegal tobacco in your area, please report it.

Regulations for legitimate tobacco products

There are rules and regulations in place for selling of legitimate tobacco products. This is to help cut down smoking prevalence rates and prevent young people taking up smoking.

For infomation on regulations for legitimate tobacco products, see cigarette sales.