Many smokers are unaware that fake cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco are even more dangerous to health, than genuine tobacco products.
An increasing number of highly dangerous fakes are being sold in the city's pubs and clubs, as well as venues like car boot sales, markets and even some corner and mobile shops.
How can I tell if it is counterfeit?
Cut price counterfeit cigarettes or tobacco are offered for sale in convincing packets which can appear identical to the packaging of well- known brands
It is easy to be fooled by the packaging, but on closer inspection the print quality is often poor and the packet soon falls apart. The tobacco may have a different smell then the genuine item and most smokers will notice the difference in taste as soon as they light up.
If you are buying tobacco products from a street trader, car boot sale or from someone selling at the pub you are probably buying fakes.
Why are fake tobacco products so harmful?
The fakes are so dangerous that doctors have warned they are responsible for four times as many deaths as drugs.
All cigarettes and tobacco are harmful. However people should be aware that fake tobacco is even more hazardous than the real thing because you can never be sure what you are smoking.
Analysis of counterfeit tobacco products has shown they contain highly dangerous ingredients like cyanide and even plastic, sand, insects and rat droppings. In many cases the fake cigarettes have been found to be much stronger than genuine ones. Many of the fakes come from China and Eastern European Countries.
Why is buying fake tobacco such a problem?
Fake cigarettes are being offered at a lower price, often half the price of legal ones. While most people believe they are getting a bargain, many do not realise the effect buying fake tobacco has on them and their community. Fake tobacco is linked to low level and large scale organised crime, nationally and internationally. It goes hand in hand with drugs, fake alcohol, child exploitation, money laundering and even terrorism.
Buying fake products also harms local legitimate businesses who comply with the law and sell genuine products.
Cheaper counterfeit tobacco also makes smoking more affordable, which:
• Makes it easier for young people to take up the habit
• Reduces people's motivation to quit
• Encourages smokers to smoke more
• Targets poor and disadvantaged communities
What are we doing about it?
To combat the problem in the city, our hard hitting campaign is aimed at raising public awareness with posters that are being displayed by the retail trade and in public places.
To date we have received approximately 140 calls from the Fakes Hotline.
Due to the number of calls received, intelligence has improved and subsequently, partnership working with HMRC has improved. Regular programmed joint visits are made to business and residential addresses. These visits have resulted in 400 counterfeit cigarettes and 1.85 kilos of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco being seized and 39720 non-duty paid cigarettes and 75.55 kilos of non-duty hand rolling tobacco being seized.
We urge anyone to report any sales of counterfeit tobacco by contacting our fakes hotline on 01782 238444. You can report anonymously if you wish.