Illicit tobacco

Illicit tobacco - information about action we have taken in H&F, how to identify illicit tobacco and what to do if you discover a shop selling illicit tobacco.

H&F protects consumers from the additional dangers of counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes, and tobacco retailers who comply with the law from being undercut by those who flout it.

Between October 2020 and the end of 2022, the H&F Trading Standards team seized 5,200 packs of cigarettes and 24kg of hand-rolling tobacco from 11 different businesses. Many of the seized products were counterfeit. The total duty and tax payable on the products was around £56,000.

In addition, 140kg of shisha (£20,000 duty and tax payable) was seized from 21 businesses.

How illegal tobacco products harm society

Cheap tobacco encourages smoking and makes it harder to quit. Health warnings are often absent or in a foreign language.

Counterfeit and some non-duty paid products will not meet the requirement for cigarettes to be able to self-extinguish if dropped, increasing the risk of house fires. Honest businesses are harmed by having to complete with businesses selling illegal goods – which may also be committing other offences, such as selling nitrous oxide cannisters or making underage sales children.

How to file a report

Please report any suspicions of illegal tobacco products being supplied in H&F. Tell-tale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • no health warning picture and branded packaging
  • foreign language health warnings
  • low prices (for example £7 or £8 per pack of 20 cigarettes; 50g of hand-rolling tobacco for £15)
  • products that do not have a legal UK equivalent.

See more information on the London Trading Standards webpage.

Contact details

Please report any leads to our partners in Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or online via the Citizens Advice website. Please leave your contact details when you do. We will never reveal who has made the complaint, but it may be important to be able to talk further with you.

Alternatively, you can report matters anonymously (or for supplies in other boroughs) via the London Trading Standards website.

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