How to spot illegal tobacco

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By PGStrange | Monday, February 25, 2013, 09:47

HOW CAN YOU spot illegal tobacco? As a new awareness campaign is launched to reduce the number of people buying and being offered illegal tobacco in Devon, here are seven tell-tale signs to look out for...

  • Price less than £3.50 for 20 cigarettes or under £7 for 50g of hand-rolling tobacco
  • Missing fiscal mark
  • No health warning
  • Foreign language on packs – specifically the health warning
  • Unfamiliar brands – never heard of it before? Check it out
  • Printing errors on the pack
  • Unusual taste and smell

Commonly used terms

Smokefree South West has offered definitions of some commonly used terms concerning illegal supply:

Smuggling – occurs where legitimately manufactured tobacco products are diverted, usually when in the wholesale distribution chain, evading payment of the tax.

Bootlegging – a variant of smuggling: tobacco products are purchased in a country with a low level of taxation and illegally brought into countries with higher rates of taxation.

Non-UK brands ('Cheap Whites') – brands manufactured overseas and smuggled into the UK. Brands include Raquel, Richman and Jin Ling.

Counterfeiting – involves the illegal manufacture of tobacco products, often abroad but sometimes in the UK to pass as UK brands avoiding all tax.

EU Duty Paid Goods –.There are no limits on the amount of duty and /or tax paid tobacco goods you can bring into the UK from the EU, as long as they are for your own use and not to be sold or exchanged as a form of payment.

Minimum Indicative Levels

Travellers from the South West bringing tobacco and cigarettes into the UK from the EU are reminded that Minimum Indicative Levels (MILs) changed on 1 October 2011, aligning the UK with levels elsewhere in Europe. Since that date, you are more likely to be asked questions at the frontier if you have more than 800 cigarettes and 1kg of hand-rolling tobacco.



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