4th July 2017

Illegal tobacco campaign 2018

London unites against illegal tobacco

At least 22 London boroughs participated in this year’s London Illegal Tobacco Campaign.

Following the success of the 2017 campaign council’s across the capital sought to raise awareness about the harm caused by illegal tobacco and encourage members of the public to report anyone selling it.

The Campaign links into the Mayor’s Health Inequalities Strategy and is being supported by London Councils, London Trading Standards, Public Health England and the London Association of Directors of Public Health.

As a result of intelligence received during the 2017 campaign, trading standards enforcement raids took place across 11 London boroughs and more than 21,000 illegal tobacco products were seized.

Research has shown that illegal tobacco is a continuing issue in London. This is why London boroughs and several pan London organisations joined together to run the co-ordinated campaign.

  • A third of smokers were offered illegal tobacco in the last year
  • Availability undermines stop smoking services and makes it harder for smokers to quit
  • Sellers often target children getting them hooked on smoking and damaging their health
  • The supply network is linked to organised criminal groups and is an enabler for other criminality such as drug dealing, money laundering and people trafficking

Awareness-raising campaign shows visited locations across London to highlight the harm caused by the sale of illegal tobacco. Specially trained tobacco sniffer dogs were showcased to help promote conversations with residents and there was information on hand on how to identify illegal tobacco and who to report it to.

Campaign locations with sniffer dogs
Date Borough Place
Stall (no dogs)    
Friday 13 July 2018 Wandsworth Wandsworth Library
Thursday 26 July 2018 (12pm to 3pm) Southwark Guys Hospital Foyer, Great Maze Pond, SE1 9RT
Tuesday 31st July

(12pm to 2.30pm)

Brent Brent Civic Centre Atrium,
BWY Canine Unit    
Saturday 30 June 2018 Royal Borough of Greenwich Woolwich Arsenal
Saturday 7 July 2018 Lewisham Lewisham People’s Day, Mountfield Park, SE6 1AN
Sunday 8 July 2018 Redbridge Opposite Waterstones, 158-160 High Road, Ilford, IG1 1LL
Monday 9 July 2018 Hounslow Hounslow High Street near Holy Trinity Church
Tuesday 10 July 2018 Merton Civic Centre, London Rd Morden, SM4 5DX
Wednesday 11 July 2018 Richmond Civic Centre, 44 Richmond Rd, Twickenham,


Thursday 12 July 2018 Hillingdon Intu Uxbridge Shopping Centre, Uxbridge High Street UB8
Friday 13 July 2018 City of London St. Paul's Cathedral EC4M 8AD (north-west churchyard)
Saturday 14 July 2018 Southwark Rotherhithe Festival, King George Fields, SE16
Wagtail Unit    
Monday 16 July 2018 Westminster Church Street Market, NW8 8DT
Tuesday 17 July 2018 Kensington and Chelsea Portobello Market, W11 1AN
Wednesday 18 July 2018 Tower Hamlets Chrisp Street Market, E14
Thursday 19 July 2018 Waltham Forest Walthamstow Town Square
Friday 20 July 2018 Camden Inverness Street Market, NW1 7HB (off Camden High Street)
Saturday 21 July 2018 Barnet The Broadwalk Centre, Edgware HA8 7BD
Monday 23 July 2018 Enfield Foundation Island, the Town, Enfield Town, EN2 6CD
Tuesday 24 July 2018 Barking and Dagenham Barking Market, East Street, IG11 8GN
Wednesday 25 July 2018 Haringey Hollywood Green, Vue cinema, 180 High Road, Wood Green, London N22 6EJ
Thursday 26 July 2018 Islington Islington Town Hall, Upper Street N1 2UD
Friday 27 July 2018 Hackney The Narrow Way, Mare Street, Hackney,   E8 1JY
Saturday 28 July 2018 Lambeth Windrush Square, Brixton
Sunday 29 July 2018 Havering  Ronea Corner Tesco, Romford RM12


Tell tale signs of illegal tobacco

Telltale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • Packets with no picture health warnings
  • Packets with foreign language health warnings
  • Stock kept out of sight in retail shops and away from the regular tobacco display cabinet
  • Much cheaper than normal cigarettes, for example £3.50 - £5.00 per pack of 20
  • Unusual or foreign brand names, such as Jin Ling – or those from Russia and the Far East
  • Availability in unusual locations, such as pubs, market stalls, ice cream or fast food vans and private homes (tab houses)

Working to stamp out illegal tobacco

Local Trading Standards work across London to combat the supply of illegal tobacco.

It is a priority because the sale of duty evaded and counterfeit tobacco products undermines the health objectives of high taxation and labelling rules and steals business away from legitimate tobacco sellers.

There are also fire safety implications as illicit cigarettes do not comply with legal requirements designed to reduce the chances of un-attended lit cigarettes starting a fire.

National and regional levels of smoking and smoking related diseases continue to fall as a result of higher taxation, better education, support in quitting and laws limiting where people can smoke. However, across many parts of London smoking rates for routine and manual workers are consistently much higher than their general populations.

In summary cheap and readily available illegal tobacco keeps people smoking. Our work incudes:

  • Receiving and sharing intelligence with partners about illegal tobacco suppliers
  • Carrying out test purchasing  and inspections
  • Deploying specially trained tobacco sniffer dogs to find concealed products
  • Working with local police and HM Revenue & Customs to seize illicit tobacco
  • Enforcing labelling, fire safety and anti-counterfeiting legislation
  • Carrying out educational campaigns to highlight the problems and promote reporting


Londoners can report suspicions over illegal tobacco products via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or online using the anonymous London Trading Standards reporting tool.

  • View slides from the 2017 campaign here
  • View the use of sniffer dogs by London Trading Standards on YouTube here
  • Visit the twitter feed of B.W.Y Canine here
  • Visit the twitter feed of Wagtail UK here

Counterfeit Marlboro products

Tobacco sniffer dogs

Illegal tobacco products

Campaign stall