Illicit tobacco

The council protects tobacco retailers who comply with the law from being undercut by those who flout it.

Illegal tobacco with a retail value of over £45,000 was seized from four businesses by our trading standards team in October 2020. Working with a sniffer dog, they found 2,900 packs, and 41 kg of other products, such as shisha, snuff or hand-rolled, which did not have the correct warnings. The total retail value was over £45,000

Illegal tobacco includes packets without the health warnings in English and counterfeits.  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