4th July 2017

Illegal tobacco roadshows

London unites against illegal tobacco

In July a campaign was launched by London Councils and London Trading Standards, in partnership with Public Health, to stamp out illegal tobacco across the capital.

The campaign sought to improve public understanding of the different types of illegal tobacco and the consequences of supporting the trade.

Awareness-raising roadshows visited locations across London to highlight the harm caused by the sale of illegal or cheap tobacco.

Specially trained tobacco sniffer dogs were also showcased, to help promote conversations with residents, and information was on hand on how to identify illegal tobacco and who to report concerns to.

Roadshow locations
Date Borough Place of roadshow
Monday 10 July 2017 Hounslow Hounslow High Street
Tuesday 11 July 2017 Merton Civic Centre, London Road


Wednesday 12 July 2017 Barking & Dagenham Town Centre, East Street,


Thursday 13 July 2017 Haringey Wood Green Shopping Centre

In front of Vue cinema

Friday 14 July 2017 Hackney Tesco Car Park, 55 Morning

Lane Hackney E9 6ND

Monday 17 July 2017 Enfield Civic Centre, Silver Street,


Tuesday 18 July 2017 Tower Hamlets Vesey Path and Market

Square, E14

Wednesday 19 July 2017 Islington Tillich Street, N1
Thursday 20 July 2017 Camden Queens Crescent, NW5
Friday 21 July 2017 Lewisham Lewisham Market adjacent to

The Lewisham Centre

Saturday 22 July 2017 Royal Greenwich General Gordon Square

Woolwich Town Centre


It’s estimated that criminal networks are making over £100 million a year from the trade in London alone, with a third of London smokers saying they were offered illegal tobacco in the previous year. Such products are unregulated, untaxed and often sold under-the-counter, which means they are available at ‘pocket money prices’, making it easier for children  to buy them and to start smoking from a young age.

Tell tale signs of illegal tobacco

Telltale signs of illegal tobacco include:

  • Packets with foreign language health warnings
  • Packets with no picture health warnings
  • Much lower prices 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

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.

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
  • View slides from the illegal tobacco roadshows here
  • View the use of sniffer dogs by London Trading Standards on YouTube here
  • Visit the twitter feed of B.W.Y Canine here

Counterfeit Marlboro products

Tobacco sniffer dogs

Illegal tobacco products

Roadshow stall