Supply and distribution

We are totally opposed to illicit trade and are committed to working with governments and customs and excise authorities around the world to tackle tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting.

Our international experience reinforces our concern that excessive tax increases by governments fuel the growth of illicit trade.

Smuggling and counterfeiting benefits no one except the criminals involved, creating a market that is uncontrolled and unaccountable. As a result, children can more easily obtain tobacco products, governments are deprived of tax revenues and the livelihoods of independent tobacco retailers are threatened.

We apply stringent controls to our global network of distributors, and have a dedicated team of specialists who operate internationally in conjunction with governments and customs and excise authorities to disrupt the supply and sales of illicit product.

The success of our operations has helped to significantly reduce smuggling of genuine Imperial Tobacco products.

Our anti-illicit trade activity is increasingly directed against counterfeiting, which is a growing issue for a range of consumer goods' industries.

Our brands are manufactured to the highest standards and comply with all regulatory requirements. Counterfeit products do not comply with these requirements and therefore deprive smokers of the quality and taste they associate with their favourite brands.

Retailers and consumers should only buy tobacco products from legitimate sources.

Illicit trade

September 2015

Imperial Tobacco presented at the Exane Illicit Tobacco Trade Forum along with KPMG

May 2015

Illicit trade in tobacco products is a significant and growing problem worldwide. Find out more:

View our interactive document

Imperial Tobacco's policy is to ensure that the Group and its subsidiaries do not employ children.

We are committed to working with our suppliers to encourage their compliance with international standards on child labour. We work with relevant stakeholders to eliminate the exploitation of children in the tobacco sector.

Imperial Tobacco is a Board member of the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Foundation ( This is a partnership established by organisations representing tobacco workers, growers, suppliers and manufacturers, supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which aims to improve access to education and ensure alternatives to childhood working. The ECLT Foundation aims to ensure that children are provided with an upbringing that gives them the best chance to succeed in all aspects of life.

Further information is available in the Corporate Responsibility section of the website.

We support penalties for retailers who sell tobacco products to children and for criminals who trade in smuggled or counterfeit products.

We do not believe that the introduction of retailer licensing will prevent illegal sales. Combating illegal sales is already being addressed through the co-operation of the tobacco industry and national authorities, without unnecessarily bureaucratic and costly retailer licensing.

Retailer licensing does little to reduce youth smoking or illicit trade. Counterfeit and smuggled products are rarely sold through the legitimate distribution chain.

We do not seek to use genetically modified tobacco, as we do not believe that our consumers wish to purchase products that may contain genetically modified materials.

We take steps to ensure we do not purchase or use genetically modified tobacco. These steps include regular testing.

We actively encourage the minimisation of the use of plant protection products (PPPs).

The majority of the tobacco that we use is purchased through the leading international leaf supplying companies. Working together with our suppliers on a range of initiatives, including agricultural best practice, we actively encourage the minimisation of the use of PPPs.

Samples of the tobacco that we purchase are tested regularly for residues of PPPs in order to ensure that our tobacco blends meet our responsibility standards.

Imperial Tobacco has adopted the Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production (SRiTP) programme in order to monitor and continuously improve the activities of our suppliers, and to ensure that they meet our responsibility standards. Further details of this programme are in the Corporate Responsibility section of this website.