Cheap and Illicit Tobacco

West Yorkshire Trading Standards has the responsibility for enforcing legislation in relation to underage sales of tobacco, along with the supply of cheap and illicit products.

Issues surrounding the supply and use of products are tackled in a number of ways, with emphasis being on prevention, intelligence gathering and enforcement, providing a multi-strand strategy.

In West Yorkshire, Trading Standards is involved in supporting four distinct elements of tobacco control, namely:

  • Age restricted sales - prohibiting access to tobacco by young people as part of measures to reduce harm and burden that tobacco causes to society
  • Cheap and Illicit – reducing the sale of and access to counterfeit and incorrectly labelled tobacco products
  • Point of Sale - ensuring all tobacco, including smokeless products is compliant with all packaging and labelling requirements
  • Tobacco Promotion - enforcing advertising and sponsorship restrictions 

What is Cheap and Illicit Tobacco?

Cheap and Illicit Tobacco can usually be categorised into three types:

  1. Cheap Whites – Cheap Whites are cigarettes manufactured for the sole purpose of being smuggled into and sold illegally in another market. They usually do not pay tax in the country where they are made. In most cases Illicit Whites are produced in countries outside the European Union, smuggled into the UK. Often the packaging will not display the relevant health warnings and images.   
  2. Counterfeit – This is manufactured illegally and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright holder.
  3. Genuine tobacco smuggled into the UK – This is manufactured legally for another market outside the UK and can include UK and non UK brands. Often these products do display the correct health warnings and images however duty will not have been paid.

The supply/sale of illicit tobacco products comes with severe penalties, with those involved facing:

  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • Unlimited fine
  • Seizure of the proceeds of crime, whether its money, jewellery, cars or property

To report the sale of cheap and illicit tobacco including underage sales please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

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