Crimestoppers is seeking to boost illicit tobacco reporting with a new four-week pilot campaign focusing on the link between illegal cigarettes and organised crime.
The appeal for information is first focusing on Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow which have been identified as key illicit tobacco “hotspots.”
Earlier this month, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Glasgow City Council Trading Standards took part in a two day joint operation to tackle the illegal supply of illicit tobacco.
Officers visited markets, retailers and licensed premises - discovering 16,500 illicit cigarettes and 3.5kg of hand rolling tobacco in the process.
In January, more than one million illicit cigarettes were seized in Birmingham and Smethwick.
Officers from HMRC, supported by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards team and Border Force, visited 22 retail premises and 17 self-storage units.
The visits led to the seizure of more than one million cigarettes from 11 retail premises, and included 632,000 cigarettes from a self-storage unit.
The pilot campaign will use radio advertisements along with Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of the damage that illicit tobacco inflicts on local communities and the links it often has with organised crime groups.
These groups often have links to serious crimes such as human trafficking and the purchase of weapons, Roger Critchell, Crimestoppers director of operations said.
“While some will see illegal tobacco as a victimless crime, I can strongly reject this, with this campaign highlighting the impact it has on our communities.
“This is why we are reaching out to these three communities to tell us who is committing this crime, safe in the knowledge that people will remain completely anonymous.
“I would urge them to look beyond just the issue of illegal tobacco, and to the major impact it has on funding other crimes,” he said.
To anonymously report the sale of illicit tobacco contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the Anonymous Online Form at
If successful the pilot campaign may be rolled out to other areas.