Illicit Tobacco

UK tax paid cigarette consumption has been declining in recent years (from 64 billion cigarettes in 2005-06 to 36.5 billion cigarettes in 2016-17) however the volume of illicit cigarette consumption has remained stable through this period at an estimated four billion cigarettes.

It is important to monitor trends in the sale of illicit cigarettes because if UK tax paid cigarette consumption continues to decline and the illicit market volume remains steady or decreases more slowly than UK tax paid, then the illicit market share will continue to rise.

Increasing the price of tobacco through taxation improves health through reducing smoking rates and has a positive impact on health equity. Illicit tobacco undermines this. There is also concern that children and young people may be easier to target by the low price and unregulated packaging that accompany illicit cigarettes, and they may therefore act as an easier gateway into smoking.

Below you will find links to reports and other useful websites related to illicit tobacco. Note that this page is still being developed. If you have any further resources that could be included please contact 

HM Revenue and Customs statistics relating to tobacco tax gap estimates 

Illicit Tobacco Partnership 

Taxation and Illicit trade 

Guidance for trading standards