The Health Effects of Counterfeit Cigarettes

Progress comes one small step at a time.  Numerous researchers, including those as at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have warned that counterfeit cigarettes contain far higher leads of lead, cadmium and other metals compared with legally produced products. 

To study the health effects of contraband, researchers need to conduct two types of studies:

  1. Research on the levels of toxic metals in counterfeit cigarettes compared with genuine brand products; and
  2. Research on elevated health consequences of consuming counterfeit products.


CRE was pleased to have the opportunity to raise the counterfeit cigarette issue at FDA’s Tobacco Products Analysis Scientific Workshop.  To help inform the agency’s research activities, CRE discussed several peer reviewed studies which used various analytic techniques to determine the ratio of lead, mercury, arsenic and other metals in counterfeit cigarettes relative to legal products.  One of the studies specifically noted that its methodology “shows promise as a method for identifying counterfeit cigarettes, possibly determining the source region.”

The FDA needs to know the health risks of counterfeit cigarettes relative to authentic products as part of its tobacco control mission.  Thus, FDA needs to fund research that analyzes the constituents of counterfeit cigarettes and identifies any differential health consequences from their consumption.

CRE’s presentation, with links to the studies discussed, is attached below.

Leave a Reply

Please Answer: *