A report highlighting the dangers of counterfeit cigarettes has been welcomed by MEP Paul Nuttall, who campaigns against plain packaging for tobacco products.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that black market cigarettes create fire risks, damage businesses and cost £3bn a year in unpaid duty

“I would never encourage anyone to smoke but those who choose to do so should not be at risk of unwittingly buying cigarettes filled with human excrement, dead flies, rat droppings, mould and asbestos,” said Mr Nuttall, UKIP deputy leader.

“The LGA has also pointed out that fake cigarettes pose a fire risk because they are not designed to extinguish when not actively smoked. Often they have much higher levels of toxic ingredients such as cadmium, arsenic, tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide and lead, than genuine cigarettes.

“People prefer to pay the lowest price they can for goods, including cigarettes and tobacco, which is why the black market thrives. It is right that councils should do everything they can to tackle the illicit trade in fake cigarettes but their uphill task should not be made even more difficult by the government’s plain packaging plans,”

“Introducing such uniform packaging will make it even easier for the counterfeiters and should not be given the go-ahead here.

“Plain packaging does not work at deterring smokers as has recently been shown by sales figures in Australia which showed an increase,” said Mr Nuttall, Euro-MP for the North West.

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