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At around half to a third of the price of a premium pack of legal cigarettes, the cheap price of illegal tobacco makes it attractive to the young and vulnerable, exposing them to criminal activity, threatening the effectiveness of youth access prevention schemes across the UK, undermining legitimate retailers and depriving the Government of vital tax revenue.
Re-selling any tobacco you have purchased overseas within the UK is illegal. However, as long as it’s for personal consumption, you are permitted to bring a certain tobacco allowance back into the UK from abroad – though you may have to pay excise on any tobacco products you declare.
Although their professional-style branding might signal otherwise, Jin Ling and Pect are prime examples of ‘cheap whites’ – illegal cigarettes featuring fictional brands masterminded by organised crime gangs with no legitimate market. If you are offered these brands for sale, please report the individual or store concerned to your local law enforcement agency.
With standardised packs arriving in the UK this May, it remains to be seen whether illegal tobacco will follow the same pattern as Australia which, according to the H2 2015 KPMG report, has witnessed a 20% increase in the illicit trade since the introduction of plain packs in 2012.