Tobacco industry takes a stand against illegal tobacco

Tobacco industry takes a stand against illegal tobacco

03 August 2015

The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) has launched a campaign at Birmingham airport to remind passengers jetting off on their summer holidays that bringing tobacco products into the UK and selling them on is a criminal offence. The campaign will run during the busy summer holiday get-away period between August and September.

The campaign ads have been strategically placed in the departure area of the airport and feature a young man being questioned by the authorities about illegal tobacco. The caption reads: ‘Planning to bring tobacco into the UK? Don’t sell it on, it’s illegal.’

Research has shown that some passengers do not know how much tobacco they can bring back into the UK or that selling tobacco bought overseas in the UK is illegal. The TMA’s national poll of adult smokers in 2014 highlighted the scale of the problem, with 30% of adults smokers aware of illicit (no UK duty paid) tobacco being sold in their area. In addition, 29% confirmed that they themselves buy from non-shop sources including friends and family, in the street and in pubs – the majority citing lower price or cheaper products as the main reason.

While tobacco duties and retail prices are generally lower in the majority of overseas destinations, they are much lower in some countries, like Croatia and Bulgaria. There a pack of 20 cigarettes typically costs less than £3.00, compared to more than £8.00 in the UK.

Giles Roca, Director General of the TMA, said:

“Some people do not realise it is illegal to buy tobacco abroad and then sell it on in this country. This campaign has already proved successful when run at a number of airports last year in getting the message across that there are consequences to breaking the law. We should not forget that this practice is affecting many hard-working independent shopkeepers who are deprived of legitimate tobacco sales and related footfall.”

Birmingham airport is part of a coordinated anti illicit tobacco airport campaign that is also being run in the East Midlands, South East England and Wales.

– ENDS –

For further informationinterviews, please contact:

Mike Goodall
M: 07725 262 478

Notes to Editors:

1. The TMA is the trade association for tobacco companies that operate in the UK. Our members are British American Tobacco UK Ltd (, Gallaher Ltd (a member of the JTI Group of companies –, and Imperial Tobacco Ltd. (

2. UK tax (excise + VAT) revenues from cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco were an estimated £12 billion in 2014. According to HM Revenue & Customs Measuring Tax Gaps Report 2014, the illicit tobacco market cost the UK economy £2.1bn in lost tax revenue in 2013/14

3. UK tobacco taxes increased by 40% over the course of the last Parliament

4. The price of a premium pack of 20 cigarettes costs £9.16 in the UK, 2 or 3 times higher than some EU member states.

5. HMRC guidelines for duty free allowances are,
• within the EU: Cigarettes 800; Cigars 200; Cigarillos 400; Hand rolling tobacco 1kg
• outside the EU: Cigarettes 200; Cigars 100; Cigarillos 50; Hand rolling tobacco 250g

6. Further information can be found on the TMA’s website –

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