Fake cigarettes are flooding the UK market, and some contain a variety of unpleasant additions to the tobacco. A study has found human excrement in some of the black market cigarettes, along with rat droppings, and high levels of toxins.
An undercover investigation in Medway sent researchers to buy black market cigarettes from a variety of sources. The Kent Messenger said they picked them up easily in pubs, taxis and bookies.
The investigation was led by former detective chief inspector Will O'Reilly (who now does research for the tobacco giant Philip Morris). He said: "On analysis, all sort of chemicals and high levels of toxins are found. We have also found human faeces, rat droppings and sawdust." The information has now been passed to trading standards.
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Previous studies have also found more than eight times as much lead in these fakes as in branded cigarettes, which builds up in the body and slowly poisons the user. They have also found higher levels of tar, carbon monoxide, cadmium and arsenic.
The Local Government Association pointed out earlier this year that illegal cigarettes pose a fire risk, and cost the UK about £3 billion a year in unpaid duty.
Clearly the tobacco industry, the government and the Border Agency all have a vested interest in putting people off illegal cigarettes, because they all depend on smokers paying the full price and all their taxes on their tobacco products. Obviously they think that highlighting the revolting things found in some of these fakes could help persuade people to give them a miss.
But what do you think? Will the prospect of disgusting things lurking in fake cigarettes make people think twice about buying them?
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