2017 – Anti-smuggling campaign


The TMA has launched a new campaign targeting the illegal tobacco trade in the UK. This builds on successful campaigns at UK points of entry/exit, by providing a focus on specific European routes into the country, and to the communities that are affected by the illegal trade.


There is a greater flow of illegal tobacco coming from countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Romania which is then sold on 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 retail stores, social media and community websites. The TMA is therefore extending its campaign activities to focus on these emerging challenges.

The campaign which will run during summer 2017 will cover the following areas:

• Targeting of adult passengers travelling through, Stansted, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow airports and the port of Dover

Targeting of adult coach passengers as they travel to and from Poland to the UK

• 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

Billboard style posters at Poznan airport in Poland warning of the rules around tobacco importation into the UK. 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 organized crime.

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

“As people travel to and from the continent, 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 routes to and from the UK and some of the online platforms which are used to then facilitate the sale of these illicit goods. Our advice is simple; don’t be tempted.”



The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) is the trade association for the UK’s tobacco industry. The TMA represents the views of our member companies when communicating with the UK Government, regional and local authorities and other stakeholders on issues of shared interest and concern, including taxation, smuggling and youth access prevention. Our members are British American Tobacco UK Ltd, Gallaher Ltd (a member of the JTI Group of companies) and Imperial Tobacco Ltd. For more information on how the UK tobacco industry is helping to reduce the UK’s longstanding problem with illegal tobacco please contact Paul Stockall on: pstockall@the-tma.org.uk

• 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 annum2

•  Polish, Lithuanian and Romanian versions of the press release are available to view