Japan Tobacco International (JTI) is rolling out a nationwide media campaign to combat the sale of illegal tobacco in the UK.

Running across more than 70 regional newspapers on the 29th May, full page adverts reaching almost five million people aim to help protect legitimate local businesses against the criminals who sell illegal tobacco in their communities.

The adverts highlight how illegal tobacco brings crime to local communities and the action JTI is taking to tackle the issue, such as terminating relationships with shop owners convicted of selling illegal tobacco and informing relevant authorities of known activity. Both HMRC and Crimestoppers numbers are included on the advert to encourage the public to report criminal activity.

Jeremy Blackburn, JTI head of communications, comments: “By raising awareness of the dangers illegal tobacco represents we aim to increase the number of people reporting these crimes and criminals.

“Our commitment to support the actions of HM Revenue & Customs and Trading Standards is steadfast. It’s clear we must work together to eradicate this trend.

“Anyone who knows of criminals supplying illegal cigarettes in their area owes it to their local community to report them and can do so anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”