Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dangers That Lurk in Counterfeit Cigarettes; EVENING STANDARD SURVEY REVEALS HIGH TAR IN IMITATION BRANDS FLOODING CAPITAL

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Dangers That Lurk in Counterfeit Cigarettes; EVENING STANDARD SURVEY REVEALS HIGH TAR IN IMITATION BRANDS FLOODING CAPITAL

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK PRIGG;FLORA STUBBS

FAKE cigarette brands being sold on London streets contain dangerously high levels of tar and nicotine, the Evening Standard has found.

Experts today warned that the number of illegal cigarettes being sold across the capital was skyrocketing - and described the counterfeits as "virtually unsmokeable".

Alison Sandford, of anti-tobacco campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said: "People have no idea what they are smoking. With counterfeit products there are no rules."

Our reporter bought cigarettes in Kilburn, Holloway and Chinatown, known for their trade in illicit tobacco.

The products were sent to a laboratory where they were analysed for levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide.

The results reveal all those offered at reduced prices were counterfeit and had illegal levels of at least two of the three substances.

The European Union limits are 10mg of tar, 10mg of carbon monoxide and 1mg of nicotine per cigarette. A packet of fake "Marlboro Gold King Size" contained 12.8mg of tar - more than twice the figure on the packet. Dr Charmaine Griffiths of the British Heart Foundation-said: "Smoking three to six cigarettes a day doubles the chance of suffering a heart attack. Smoking illegal cigarettes, packed with double the toxins, is likely to increase that risk."

Experts put the illicit tobacco boom down to crime gangs. Paul Gerrard, head of the Customs and Excise counterfeit cigarette team, said: "This is about organised crime. These are the same individuals that 10 years ago were importing heroin." He warned people were being fooled into believing many fake brands were real ones imported from the Continent.

A recent survey found only one in five smokers realise most cheap cigarettes were fake brands.

"The fake cigarettes contain high levels of chemicals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium," he said. …

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