The percentage of people buying illegal tobacco from convenience stores has grown in the past three years, according to a new survey.

The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Associations (TMA) annual survey questioned over 12,000 adult smokers across the UK on their attitudes, awareness and understanding of illicit tobacco.

70% of people buy illegal cigarettes from corner shops, or newsagents, increasing from 68% in 2019, and 64% in 2018. Elsewhere, 13% are buying it from a duty free shop, with 12% purchasing it abroad in a local shop.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • Seven out of ten people still buy illicit tobacco
  • 20% of smokers said they only buy ‘branded’ cigarettes or ‘branded’ Roll Your Own tobacco, despite it being banned in the UK since 2016
  • More than 75% of respondents aged between 18-24 have bought non-UK duty paid tobacco in the last year
  • Nearly one in five of those who were aware of the sale of illicit tobacco in their area reported it – a 4% increase on last year’s survey results
  • During the first ‘lockdown’, 16% of respondents bought illicit tobacco through social media or websites advertising cheap tobacco – compared to only 4% who purchased illicit tobacco from these sources before ‘lockdown’

In addition, 4% of respondents said they routinely buy tobacco through social media or websites advertising cheap tobacco (of which 10% buy tobacco at least once a month.

The results went on to reveal London and Northern Ireland as the top two areas where people are most likely to purchase illegal tobacco.