A NEW tobacco anti-smuggling campaign has been launched at Glasgow & Edinburgh airports to tackle illicit cigarette smuggling.

The Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA), the trade association representing the UK tobacco industry, is looking to crack down on the sale of non-UK duty paid tobacco from high-risk routes into the UK which is then sold on illegally.

Illegal selling of tobaccos ranges from simply selling on to friends and family to more sophisticated means: as well as corner shops and sellers based in pubs. Facebook is now being widely utilised to sell illegal tobacco shipped in from Poland and beyond.

The new campaign over the summer will feature adverts at the Scottish airport hubs, as well as other international ports and airports and online.

It will target more than 630,000 passengers at Glasgow Airport based on 2016 passenger numbers, and 850,000 passengers at Edinburgh Airport, advising smokers to keep to the government guidelines and only bring tobacco into the UK for personal use.

The campaign also advises smokers not to buy illegal tobacco products from online sources as they could be aiding organised crime.

The adverts will also be found at the UK’s busiest ferry port at Dover and at sites in Belfast City, Cardiff, and London Stansted airports, targeting 18.5 million passengers overall based on campaign length and past passenger numbers.

Giles Roca, director general of the TMA said they were taking the opportunity to remind people that it is illegal to bring back tobacco from overseas and then sell it on in the UK.

Mr Roca said: “Reselling tobacco bought overseas is not a victimless crime.

“This practice affects many hard-working independent shopkeepers who are deprived of legitimate tobacco sales and related footfall.

“This year we are also extending the reach of the campaign to include specific high-risk transport routes into the UK and some of the online platforms that we know are then used to then sell on such illicit tobacco.

“Our advice is simple; don’t be tempted.”

Tobacco smuggling costs the UK taxpayer an estimated £2.4 billion per annum according to latest HMRC figures.

More than 3.5 billion illicit cigarettes, and 600 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco was seized in the past two years by the UK Border Force.

Meanwhile, as part of the campaign, coaches travelling from Poland to the UK will distribute during August some 50,000 cups each carrying campaign messages in Polish.

Polish, Lithuanian and Romanian media owners have also been contacted by the TMA to stop promoting illicit tobacco through their UK websites and targeted messaging has been launched focusing on social media platforms used by Eastern European expat groups in the UK.

A billboard site at Poznan airport,which has daily low-cost flights to the UK, will carry the campaign message while a mobile trailer will carry the same message to other Polish airports.