Imperial Tobacco has set its sights on criminals who sell illicit tobacco via social media in the latest instalment of its Suspect it? Report it! anti-illicit trade campaign.

According to Imperial there has been a “notable increase” in the amount of illicit tobacco being sold online.

The campaign explains that Imperial Tobacco monitors the activity of online sellers and shares any ensuing intelligence with law enforcement.

A new poster, which retailers can download and display in store, depicts a criminal huddled in front of a personal computer, peddling illegal tobacco via social media sites like Facebook while hiding behind the alias of ‘Baccy Boy’.

Peter Nelson, Imperial Tobacco anti-illicit trade manager said: “Online isn’t an area that’s traditionally associated with the illicit tobacco trade, but Imperial Tobacco has observed a notable increase in the volume of illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco being offered for sale through various social media platforms and is taking steps to crack down on offenders.

“For instance, we’ve recently lent our support to the latest stage of Operation Jasper, a joint initiative by the National Markets Group alongside trading standards, police and other brand holders, which is cracking down on the online sale of illegal, counterfeit goods.

“Through Jasper, thousands of infringing images and pages have been reported to Facebook for removal and numerous fake products – including significant amounts of tobacco – were also seized over a two week period, with further enforcement action already planned.

“Illicit tobacco continues to be a plague on communities and needs to be eradicated. If you’ve any suspicions around its sale in your locality, then please act by contacting the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000, or your local Trading Standards or police.”