A new nationwide advertising campaign to alert summer holiday makers of the consequences of selling untaxed tobacco in Britain has been launched by the TMA, the trade association representing the UK tobacco industry.

Poster and phone box adverts at strategic locations show the despair faced by individuals caught bringing tobacco back home from overseas for illegal re-sale.

The adverts target key tourist hubs including airports in Manchester, East Midlands, Glasgow Prestwick, Glasgow International and London Luton, the port of Dover and central city locations in London and Edinburgh.

Rupert Lewis, director of the TMA, said: “It’s easy for people to forget when they’re travelling abroad, especially in the EU. They may decide that they want to buy more tobacco for their personal use as the prices are cheaper.

“The issue arises when people decide that they are going to sell on this tobacco when they are back in the UK, or they specifically buy it for the purpose of reselling in the UK. This is illegal and a criminal offence. Law enforcement agencies will take action against anybody caught and prosecute them.

“Reselling tobacco bought overseas is not a victimless crime. It directly impacts smaller independent shopkeepers who are forced to compete against illegal tobacco sales and it badly harm their businesses. It’s also critical to understand the growing influence of organised crime which is increasingly behind the purchase, trade and supply of illegal tobacco in the UK.”