Could smoking possibly get worse? If you buy counterfeit cigarettes, then yes. Much worse. On the World No Tobacco Day (31 May), SnapDragon brings you an insight into the world of counterfeit cigarettes.

No smoking sign

It’s not news that smoking is bad for your health: narrowed arteries lead to increased blood pressure and heart rate; reduced oxygen circulation to vital organs; heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease, not to mention cancer. It’s hard to imagine how this picture could get any worse.

Enter the counterfeit cigarette producers – unscrupulous manufacturers who will cut any corner to make a profit and millions of illegal cigarettes that they produce are regularly seized by councils across the UK.

Poorly manufactured counterfeits contain higher levels of toxic components such as tar, nicotine and even lead according to the Local Government Association. The cheap ingredients used in the manufacturing processes cause them to produce more carbon-monoxide and tar when burned. BBC reported that fake cigarettes can contain up to five times the levels of cancer causing chemicals. Some have been found to contain asbestos, mould, dust, dead flies, rat droppings and even human excrement. Tasty, huh?

Alongside the health concerns, counterfeit cigarettes also pose a greater fire hazard as they rarely include designs that ensure that the cigarette will self-extinguish if not actively smoked.

Smokers: The money saved on counterfeit cigarettes is not money well spent!

If you are concerned about a tobacco product sale, please report the matter to the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Top tips for recognising counterfeit cigarettes:

  1. The price: If a product is being sold for less than average retail price.
  2. The location: Cigarettes sold away from shops are far more likely to be counterfeit.
  3. Unusual packaging: Spelling mistakes, incorrect logos or typefaces.
  4. Lack of health warnings or health warnings in a different language.
  5. Unusual taste and smell.