Fake Marlboro cigarette packs seized at UK car wash

Thousands of counterfeit cigarette packs intended for use in producing counterfeit Marlboro brand cigarettes have been confiscated by trading standards in the UK.

The boxes were found during an inspection of a car wash in Boston, Lincolnshire, and provide further evidence of the trend towards increased domestic production of fake cigarettes within European countries rather than imports.

"This isn't the first time the manufacture of counterfeit cigarettes has been discovered in Lincolnshire," said Lincolnshire Trading Standards officer Andy Wright.

"We frequently find illegal products at retail level, but this recent find shows the sort of quantities being manufactured."

The inspections were part of Operation Entebbe, which aims to tackle exploitation of workers, and shows the often close relationship between illicit goods and other forms of criminal activity.

Chemists at the University of Lincoln have analysed fake cigarettes found in previous operations and found them to have higher levels of toxic elements – such as arsenic, cadmium and nickel – than genuine cigarettes.

When compared to legal cigarettes, counterfeits can contain as much as five times the level of cadmium, six times as much lead, 160 per cent more tar and 133 per cent more carbon monoxide.

"Worryingly, the difference in price between counterfeit and genuine cigarettes at retail is becoming smaller," said Wright, making it harder for purchasers to identify counterfeits.

"If buyers only knew what their purchase money was actually used for they might not be quite so inclined to buy them."

Cigarettes and tobacco were the most reported counterfeit goods in the UK in 2019/20, according to local authority data reported by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and IP Crime Office.

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