Millions of counterfeit cigarettes containing more than 500% higher levels of cancer inducing chemicals are being introduced on to the UK black market, with local councils claiming that the illegal contraband is 'undermining' anti-smoking campaigns, a report published on Saturday, 14 May, has claimed.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents over 370 councils across the UK, said people not buy counterfeit cigarettes, as they contain levels of toxic ingredients such as tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, lead, arsenic in far greater amounts than genuine cigarettes. The fake cigarettes also contain up to 500% more of the toxic chemical metal cadmium, according to Sky News.
The news follows recent raids and prosecutions in Manchester, Croydon and Coventry, with trading standards officers uncovering numerous illegal hidden stashes.
Chairman of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board, Simon Blackburn, said: "Illegal tobacco being sold cheaply through the black market by rogue traders is funding organised criminal gangs, damaging legitimate traders and robbing the taxpayer of more than £2bn that could be spent on schools, hospitals and caring for the elderly.
"No cigarettes are good for you, and fake cigarettes contain even higher levels of cancer-causing toxins than standard cigarettes, so people should think twice about buying them. Any shopkeeper thinking of selling illegal tobacco should think again."
A Department of Health spokesman also added: "Smoking is the biggest preventable killer in our country. Illegal cigarettes are extremely dangerous – even more so than normal cigarettes because they are not checked and could contain anything", according to Sky News.
Recently, on 5 April, Big Tobacco companies claimed against plans to standardise tobacco packaging in the UK, which was subsequently dismissed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).