Warning, fake cigarettes sold in the black market contain higher levels of carcinogens. Furthermore, they undermine the collective efforts pushed by governments and organizations to reduce or cut smoking, experts warned.
Compared to their genuine brand-name tobacco products, these fake cigarettes can be purchased at a much lower cost. However, there's a catch and it's a big one.
The Local Government Association (LGA) in the United Kingdom said these copycats come with an increased levels of nicotine, tar, arsenic, lead and carbon monoxide.
It gets worse. Experts said these fake cigarettes might also contain 500 percent more metal cadmium.
These counterfeit tobacco products are even riskier because they are unchecked, which means they can be concealing anything and not just the common ingredients used.
They can also light you up, literally. These fake cigarettes come with higher fire risks since they don't come with self-extinguishing components, which makes them even more dangerous.
"Illegal tobacco being sold cheaply through the black market by rogue traders is funding organized criminal gangs, damaging legitimate traders and robbing the tax payer of more than £2 billion ($2.87 billion) that could be spent on schools, hospitals and caring for the elderly," said Councilor Simon Blackburn, LGA's chairman of the Safer and Stronger Communities Board.
Blackburn added that many people might be tempted to buy these fake tobacco products thinking they are getting the real brand-name cigarettes on a great deal.
Smoking And Tobacco In The UK
A spokesperson for the UK Department of Health said that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the country.
People who sell these fake cigarettes often go after the young smokers, even children. These cheap products help the young to get hooked on the habit at an earlier age.
Vast quantities of fake tobacco products are regularly seized by officials as they continue to crack down the illicit trade.
In 2015 and 2016, more than 1.85 million fake cigarettes and 595 kilograms (0.66 tons) of illegal tobacco have been confiscated by the Derbyshire County Council. The case also led to the prosecution of seven people who were involved in the illegal trade.
UK residents who suspect any fake tobacco products on sale can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline at 08454 04 05 06 to file a report.