London, Monday August 19, 2019 – The TMA, the trade association representing the UK tobacco industry has launched a major new advertising campaign nationwide to alert summer holiday makers of the consequences of selling untaxed tobacco in Britain.

Poster and phone box adverts at strategic locations show the despair faced by individuals caught bringing tobacco back home from overseas for illegal re-sale.

The adverts target key tourist hubs including airports in Manchester, East Midlands, Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow International and London Luton, the port of Dover and central city locations in Central London and Edinburgh.

Many thousands of Britons are holidaying abroad over the summer period, and popular destinations are often countries where tobacco retails at much cheaper prices than in the UK.

This campaign reminds people tempted to make some money by bringing back cheaper cigarettes and rolling tobacco to sell onto friends, family members, colleagues or even strangers, that they face serious consequences if they are caught by law enforcement.  

Research shows that the ways people now sell illegal tobacco is getting ever more sophisticated including through social  media channels and community websites.

While there is no limit when returning from another EU country, anyone bringing excessive quantities of tobacco in their baggage may need to demonstrate to law enforcement authorities that it is for their personal use.

For those holidaying outside the EU, which includes the Canary Islands, the allowance is clearly set at 200 cigarettes or 250g of rolling tobacco. Travellers caught with tobacco products over this limit will face fines and possible prosecution. Bringing any tobacco back from abroad and selling it on is a criminal offence.

Rupert Lewis, Director of the TMA said: It’s easy for people to forget when they’re travelling abroad, especially in the EU. They may decide that they want to buy more tobacco for their personal use as the prices are cheaper. The issue arises when people decide that they are going to sell on this tobacco when they are back in the UK, or they specifically buy it for the purpose of reselling in the UK. This is illegal and a criminal offence. Law enforcement agencies will take action against anybody caught and prosecute them.

Reselling tobacco bought overseas is not a victimless crime. It directly impacts smaller independent shopkeepers who are forced to compete against illegal tobacco sales and it badly harm their businesses.

It’s also critical to understand the growing influence of organised crime which is increasingly behind the purchase, trade and supply of illegal tobacco in the UK.

Don’t get caught out or caught up in crime. Don’t sell on tobacco, it’s illegal.



Notes to editors:

  • The TMA (Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association) is the trade body for the UK tobacco industry. Our members are British American Tobacco Ltd, Gallaher Ltd (a member of the JTI Group of companies) and Imperial Tobacco Ltd.
  • This is the sixth year of the TMA’s advertising campaign at UK airports, Dover (the world’s busiest passenger port) and number of central city locations.
  • According to HMRC, since 2000-01 the total tax revenue lost through tobacco smuggling exceeds £45billion (source: HMRC Tobacco Tax Gaps).
  • In HMRC’s latest 2017-18 Tobacco Tax Gap figures, smuggled tobacco costs the UK taxpayer £1.8billion.

For further information, please contact the TMA on 07885706422 or

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