A project has been launched to clampdown on the sale of fake cigarettes which can contain potentially lethal ingredients, including asbestos, arsenic and mouse droppings.
Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham Councils have joined forces to lead a new campaign to show the damaging effects of the manufacture, sale and consumption of dodgy fags.
The scheme was unveiled at the Frenchgate Centre yesterday with a demonstration showing the squalid conditions poor workers are forced to work in to manufacture illegal cigarettes.
Glyn Jones, deputy mayor of Doncaster, said: “All cigarettes contain over 4,000 toxins, but fake cigarettes can also contain animal excrement and floor sweepings.”
Victor Joseph, public health consultant for Doncaster Council, added: “Fake cigarettes are often sold to children and we need to stop this.”
Project leaders said fake cigarettes are often made by in slave labour operations by poor workers who may have been illegally trafficked. Dealers and shopkeepers then sell them for as little as £3 a pack to smokers looking for a cheap deal. But buyers are often unaware of their potentially lethal ingredients as the trade is illegal and unregulated.
A new website www.stopcigsforkids.co.uk has been created for people to report outlets they suspect are selling illegal cigarettes. Officers will also be out and about over the next few weeks to hand out information leaflets to the public.
A recent undercover operation revealed Doncaster as one of the easiest places in the country for unscrupulous retailers to peddle their illicit goods.
A two day investigation in August found 32 Doncaster premises, including bars, pubs and shops, were selling fake cigarettes.
The probe was led by former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector Will O’Reilly whose team made 40 separate purchases of 80 products. Packs of 20 Russian and Polish branded cigarettes were selling for as little as £3, less than half the recommended retail price of legal cigarettes. Rolling tobacco was available for £8 per 50g pouch.