Major new anti-smuggling tobacco campaign launches across UK transport hubs, high-risk European travel routes and online

Major new anti-smuggling tobacco campaign launches across UK transport hubs, high-risk European travel routes and online

The trade association representing the UK tobacco industry has today launched a major campaign targeting the illicit tobacco trade across some of the busiest transport hubs in the UK, key transports routes in and out of the country and online.


The campaign which builds on previous TMA activities* seeks to challenge the flows of non-UK duty paid tobacco from known high-risk routes into the UK which is then sold on illegally in a variety of ways. Research shows that this ranges from simply selling on to friends and family or by more sophisticated means such as through the use of retailers, social media and community websites. The TMA is therefore extending its campaign activities to focus on such online platforms used for the sale of illegal tobacco as well as known transport routes used to bring non-UK duty paid tobacco into the UK.


The campaign, which will run during the busy summer period, will cover the following areas:


  • Multiple sites at Stansted, Belfast City, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports
  • The UK’s busiest ferry port at Dover across multiple sites and in-terminal
  • Coaches travelling from Poland to the UK will distribute during August some 50,000 cups each carrying campaign messages in Polish
  • 100 Polish, Lithuanian and Romanian media owners that operate UK websites that focus on expat communities that live in the UK have been engaged to ensure that illicit tobacco is not promoted through their online platforms and that any existing promotions are taken down
  • Targeted messaging has been launched focusing on social media platforms used by Eastern European expat groups in the UK
  • A billboard site at Poznan airport in Poland which has daily low-cost flights to the UK will carry the campaign message whilst a mobile trailer will carry the same message to other Polish airports which have flights to the UK during August


The TMA is advising adult consumers to adhere to the government guidelines and only bring tobacco into the UK for personal use, as the consequences can be severe. The TMA advises smokers not to buy illegal tobacco products from online sources as they could be aiding organised crime.


Commenting on the campaign, Giles Roca, Director General of the TMA said:

“As people travel to and from the continent over the summer holidays, we are taking this opportunity to remind them with this new campaign that it is illegal to bring back tobacco from overseas and then sell it on in the UK. 

“Reselling tobacco bought overseas is not a victimless crime. This practice affects many hard-working independent shopkeepers who are deprived of legitimate tobacco sales and related footfall.



“This year we are also extending the reach of the campaign to include specific high-risk transport routes into the UK and some of the online platforms that we know are then used to then sell on such illicit tobacco. Our advice is simple; don’t be tempted.”


·         The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) is the trade association for the UK’s tobacco industry. Our members are British American Tobacco UK Ltd, Gallaher Ltd (a member of the JTI Group of companies) and Imperial Tobacco Ltd.

·         * This is the fourth year of the TMA’s advertising campaign at UK airports. The campaign began in 2014 at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. In 2015, Heathrow, Cardiff and Aberdeen were added. In 2016 the campaign was extended to include Dover, the world’s busiest passenger port. This year the campaign will be extended to cover specific transport operators and routes into the UK, as well as online

·         UK tax revenue from tobacco in 2016/17 amounted to £11.5bn, which included a contribution of around £9.0bn in excise duty and £2.5bn in value-added-tax (VAT) to the UK economy

·         Tobacco smuggling brings criminality into communities across the UK and costs the UK taxpayer an estimated £2.4bn per annum according to latest HMRC figures.

·         For further information please contact TMA on 07747486479

Campaign at Port of Dover (further images are available on request)


Campaign at Stansted, Edinburgh,  Cardiff, Belfast City airports






The campaign at Poznan airport in Poland and on board coaches arriving into the UK

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