Illicit tobacco

Between December 2017 and March 2018, we seized over 53,000 cigarettes and 5.7 kg of hand rolling tobacco, which, had it been genuine, would have had a market value of approximately £43,000.

The tobacco was counterfeit, had been smuggled, or didn’t have the required health warnings.

Dangerous though any form of tobacco is, the counterfeit items often contain more heavy metals, and very rarely meet the requirement for cigarettes to be able to self-extinguish if not smoked for too long.

Tell-tale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • no health warning picture
  • foreign language health warnings
  • very cheap (for example £3.50 – £5.00 per pack of 20)
  • unusual brand names, such as Jin Ling – or those from Russia and the Far East
  • being sold in unusual places, such as pubs, ice cream vans, burger vans.

There’s more on this on the London Trading Standards website.

If you discover a shop is selling illicit tobacco, please call us on 020 8753 1081 or email us at

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