Cops warn of fake deadly cigarettes

NDET 25-9-12 MC 18'Smoking cigarette butts
NDET 25-9-12 MC 18'Smoking cigarette butts

Fake cigarettes made from human excrement, asbestos, mould and dead flies are being smoked regularly in Chesterfield, undercover detectives have found.

Investigators working for the tobacco industry have spent weeks rummaging through litter bins for fag packets to assess the scale of the black market.

They found over 18 per cent of packets in the town contained fakes or cigarettes brought in by smugglers.

The figure places Chesterfield 28th out of 105 local authorities with the highest number of illicit tobacco.

The data, from the second quarter of this year, also shows the increasing trade in the East Midlands - with 22 per cent of packets either bogus or purchased abroad, up from from 16.4 per cent last year. This puts the region third behind London and the West Midlands.

Will O’Reilly, a former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector who now works as a consultant on tackling tobacco crime, said: “After a number of years in decline, there has been a sharp rise in illicit cigarettes.

“That’s partly down to the economy - people can’t afford the real product - and it is easier for counterfeiters to copy the packets. Plans for plain packaging are simply playing into the hands of organised criminals and counterfeiters.”

He added: “Organised crime is believed to have switched from dealing drugs to importing fake cigarettes.

“They can be as little as £2.50 compared to £8 full price.”

The data does not include hand-rolled tobacco, for which HMRC estimates that as much as half of UK consumption is sourced on the black market.