Quality standard

Quality statement 9 (placeholder): Illicit tobacco

Quality statement

Preventing access to, demand for and supply of, illicit tobacco.

What is a placeholder statement?

A placeholder statement is an area of care that has been prioritised by the Quality Standards Advisory Committee but for which no source guidance is currently available. A placeholder statement indicates the need for evidence‑based guidance to be developed in this area.

What is illicit tobacco?

  • Cigarettes

    • 'Illicit white' cigarettes have no legal market in the UK. UK duty has not been paid and the appropriate health warnings and images may not be present. Some of these products may be legally sold in countries outside the UK.

    • Counterfeit cigarettes are illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright holder. This can also include the counterfeiting of 'illicit white' cigarettes.

  • Genuine cigarettes intended for sale in another country may have been smuggled into the UK or duty free cigarettes may be sold illegally rather than kept for personal use.

  • Hand‑rolling tobacco

    • Non‑UK hand‑rolling tobacco brands are not intended for sale in the UK.

    • Counterfeit hand‑rolling tobacco is, like cigarettes, illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright owner. It can also include the counterfeiting of non‑UK products. Genuine or UK hand‑rolling tobacco brands include products intended for both the UK and non‑UK markets.

[Tackling illicit tobacco for better health]


Illicit tobacco products make tobacco more accessible to children and young people, and those from socioeconomic groups already experiencing significant health inequalities. Illicit tobacco products are often half or a third of the price of duty‑paid products and can be accessed from a wide range of unregulated suppliers. Preventing children and young people and adults from accessing illicit tobacco is likely to have a significant effect on the rates of smoking and smoking uptake.