Skip to content

Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn - Isle of Anglesey County Council

Illicit tobacco

Cheap tobacco is costing more than you might bargain for. Here’s why…

  • sold at pocket money prices, often with no regard to age restrictions, cheap illicit tobacco makes it all too easy for our children to smoke and become addicted and is often actively targeted at children and young smokers, who would struggle to purchase through legitimate retailers
  • communities suffer when local shops close as a result of the loss of business
  • the availability and low cost of illicit tobacco discourages quitting smoking and encourages smokers to consume more than they would if they were paying full price
  • the illegal tobacco trade takes advantage of cash-strapped families and is also linked to crime. From low level offending in our communities to organised crime regionally, nationally and internationally, it often goes hand-in-hand with drugs and alcohol, child exploitation, money-laundering and, in some cases terrorism.
  • the illicit tobacco trade costs the UK taxpayer around £2.2 billion a year in lost tax revenue and also damages the trade of responsible retailers
  • in addition to the health implications associated with all tobacco products, counterfeit tobacco products have been found to contain inferior ingredients, including high levels of contaminants which increase the health risk. For example, fake cigarettes have been found to contain up to six times the level of lead, five times the level of cadmium and three times the level of arsenic found in ordinary cigarettes. Rat and mouse droppings, dead insects, floor sweepings and dust have also been found in them

What is illicit tobacco?

All tobacco products are harmful. Whether they are bought legitimately from a retailer or illegally on the black market, all tobacco products contain over 4,000 chemicals, at least 60 of which are known to cause cancer.

Illegal tobacco products are cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco or niche products (such as beedis/bidis and sheesha/shisha) that have been smuggled, bootlegged or are counterfeit. Illegal tobacco can be hard to spot, so here’s all you need to know - because if you can spot it, you can help stop it.

Illicit tobacco falls into several categories: smuggled, bootlegged, counterfeit or ‘illicit whites’:

  • smuggled: genuine products illegally imported to avoid paying tax
  • bootlegging: the smuggling of products from low tax jurisdictions into the UK for re-sale
  • counterfeiting: the illegal manufacturing of products and labelling as well-known brands without the consent of the trademark owner
  • illicit whites: cigarettes manufactured specifically for the illegal market. Brands include Jin Ling and Raquel and are usually made outside of the European Union

How to spot illicit tobacco

  • unusual packaging - spelling mistakes, incorrect logos or typefaces
  • foreign or no health warnings
  • no picture health warnings
  • cheaper prices - less than £5 for a pack of 20
  • unusual taste and smell

If you suspect anything, report it to us.


Reports can be made anonymously to Anglesey Trading Standards

Tel: 01248 750057