Illicit cigarettes an ‘unhealthy cocktail’

From: The Evening Telegraph

Published on Tuesday 26 April 2011 04:30

SMOKERS are being warned that smuggled cigarettes could contain a “seriously unhealthy” cocktail of chemicals – much worse than a normal cigarette.

Illicit cigarettes, thousands of which have been unearthed by customs officers on the shelves of shops in Peterborough, are hard to spot as they are “expertly packaged” by criminals.

A spokeswoman for HM Revenue and Customs said: “Smuggled and fake cigarettes can often seem like an attractive offer.

“But the startling truth is unregulated cigarettes can contain a seriously unhealthy mix of chemicals including arsenic, lead, cadmium, benzene and formaldehyde, far worse than the genuine product.

“Research has shown that counterfeit cigarettes contain three times the levels of arsenic, five times the level of cadmium and nearly six times the level of lead found in genuine brands.”

However, it is not just the higher than usual level of chemicals smokers need to worry about when buying illicit cigarettes.

The spokeswoman added: “They have also been found to contain sawdust, tobacco beetles and rat droppings.

“With expertly crafted packaging it is almost impossible to spot counterfeit cigarettes until you experience the ill effects from smoking them, due to the highly toxic set of ingredients that they contain.

“Most smokers buying cheap cigarettes are unlikely to realise that they are buying counterfeit tobacco products because of the expert packaging.

“Counterfeit cigarettes provide a whole new set of risks to smokers.

“Tests on previous counterfeit hauls have revealed they contain up to 60 per cent more tar, 80 per cent more nicotine and 133 per cent more carbon monoxide.”

Residents and businesses are being urged to help the fight against crime.

Anyone who spots anything unusual, can call the HM Revenue and Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

Alternatively, people can also contact them by email on with information relating to illegally imported goods, tax evasion and fraud.


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