What is illegal tobacco?

Illegal tobacco can take many different forms and there can be regional variations in the names that it is given.  These are the definitions that are generally understood by health and enforcement partners:

Cigarettes

  • “Illicit white” cigarettes which have no legal market in the UK. These are cigarettes legally mass manufactured in factories in Russia and the East and imported illegally to the UK.  Duty has not been paid and the appropriate health warnings and images might not be present.
  • Counterfeit cigarettes which are illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright holder.
  • Genuine cigarettes which are smuggled into the UK without duty paid. Tobacco companies themselves have been strongly implicated in this. As well as cigarettes made for the UK this may include cigarettes intended for sale in another country that have been smuggled into the UK or duty free cigarettes being illegally sold, rather than kept for personal use.

Hand-rolling tobacco

Non-UK hand-rolling tobacco brands are not intended for sale in the UK.

Counterfeit hand-rolling tobacco is, like cigarettes, illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright owner.  It can also include the counterfeiting of non-UK products.

Genuine or UK hand-rolling tobacco brands include products intended for both the UK and non-UK markets.

Read more about how the illegal tobacco trade undermines efforts to cut smoking rates.