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Illegal Tobacco Myth Busters

Did you know? We want to Keep Illegal Tobacco Out because of our aims to Make Smoking History, not to recoup lost profits for the tobacco industry.

Kate Pike, leading the crackdown on Illegal Tobacco in Greater Manchester, separates the fact from the fiction.

In Greater Manchester, the crackdown on illegal tobacco is part of our wider efforts to cut smoking rates and make smoking history for future generations. And we are making smoking history at a faster rate than in any other major city region in the world.

All tobacco kills but illegal tobacco gets kids hooked on a lethal addiction, that will kill one in two life-long smokers, and its cheaper prices undermine smokers’ attempts to quit. That’s why we (Trading Standard, police, border force and others) are asking people to report illegal tobacco sales, so we can take more off the streets, limiting the supply for all smokers.

This fact checker might help you understand the truth behind ‘cheap’ illegal tobacco.


“The illegal tobacco market is out of control”Thanks to people reporting illegal tobacco sales, and team working together to take more products off the streets, the illegal market in the UK has shrunk over the last 20 years – from 17 billion cigarettes consumed in 2000 to 2.5 billion cigarettes in 2019

“Taxation is a key cause of the illicit trade”
The best way to reduce illegal tobacco is to reduce smoking, and the World Health Organisation says that increasing the price of tobacco through higher taxes is the single most effective way to encourage tobacco users to quit and prevent children from starting to smoke. The illegal market in the UK has shrunk despite cigarette pack prices increasing by 265%

“Unlike high quality genuine cigarettes, illegal cigarettes are more dangerous”All tobacco kills – legal or illegal, all tobacco contains a toxic cocktail of 5,000 chemicals, 60 of which cause cancer. The single best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking, Cigarettes, when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer, will kill more than 1 in 2 long term users.
The crackdown on illegal tobacco is part of wider efforts to cut smoking rates and make smoking history for future generations.

“Illegal cigarettes are fakes or counterfeit and are made in unregulated factories”Some cigarettes on the illegal market are fake or counterfeit. Many more illegal cigarettes are manufactured by legitimate tobacco manufacturers – the vast majority according to the World Custom’s Organisation – and slip out of the legal supply routes into the hands of organised criminals who then smuggle them into the UK to sell at cheap prices for their profit.#

“People are just trying to make ends meet through selling illegal tobacco”The sale of illicit tobacco is often a cover for human trafficking and modern slavery, and there are links to other types of organised criminality including drugs, firearms and burglaries.

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