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Councils pledge to crack down on ‘toxic’ illegal tobacco market

A deluge of black market cigarettes is helping to fund criminal gangs and robbing the tax payer of more than £2bn, council leaders have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) says trading standards teams nationwide will continue a crackdown on rogue traders and warns shopkeepers selling illegal tobacco to ‘think again’.

The LGA warns millions of cheap, illegal cigarettes containing up to 500% higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals are harming efforts to cut smoking.

The warning comes amid the seizure of huge quantities of bootlegged and counterfeit tobacco in raids across the country including in Manchester, Croydon and Coventry.

The LGA says many fake cigarettes contain higher levels of toxic ingredients such as tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, lead, arsenic and cadmium than genuine brand-name goods.

They also pose a greater fire risk as they do not self-extinguish.

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