Illegal tobacco


The illegal tobacco trade is a problem that goes well beyond the billions of pounds lost to the public through unpaid duty.

  • Often tab houses sell illegal cigarettes to children, undermining efforts by legitimate shops to sell only to people over 18, and exposing them to all the well documented health risks associated with smoking.
  • Tab houses also cause a detrimental effect on the quality of life in neighbourhoods and create a knock on effect of criminal activity.
  • The term 'tab houses' refers to properties where cut price smuggled, or even counterfeit, cigarettes and pouches or hand rolled tobacco are sold from.

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)