Crime News: Health Concerns After Police Discover “Fueled” Rat Feces In Illegal Cigarettes | United Kingdom | New
Police raided an illicit cigarette factory in Cricklewood, north London, where they found loose tobacco on the ground mixed with rat droppings. Authorities fear the number of cigarettes illegally manufactured in the UK may have increased during the pandemic, as restrictions have disrupted traditional smuggling routes.
Speaking to the Sun Will O’Reilly, a former Met Police investigator specializing in illegal tobacco, warned that the feces were “getting into” some cigarettes.
He said: “The problem for consumers is that illegal tobacco is not regulated at all.
“We saw evidence, particularly in a factory I visited in Cricklewood, London, of piles of rotten loose tobacco on the ground with rodent droppings.
“It was fed straight into a machine, with water coming from a disgusting toilet bowl.
“The ingredients are known to contain a higher proportion of carcinogenic chemicals than in regulated products. “
By law, cigarettes sold legally in the UK must include flame retardant measures, which means they will extinguish on their own if left alight in an ashtray.
However, this is not required for illicit cigarettes, which have been linked to house fires and a number of fatalities.
Mr O’Reilly has revealed that COVID-19 restrictions have boosted illegal cigarette production in Britain.
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They seized 1.6 million cigarettes and 11 tonnes of loose tobacco.
Authorities believe the factory was able to produce at least 390 million cigarettes a year.
Some of those who sell illegal cigarettes try to pass them off as real cigarettes, potentially putting more people at risk.
Mr O’Reilly explained: ‘From our infiltration trial purchase work, we have seen that the current price of contraband – tax dodging – cigarettes is around £ 7.50. A pack of counterfeit cigarettes sells for around £ 4.
“It’s hard for people to tell the difference. We have seen examples of counterfeits simulated to look like contraband.
“So you think they’re safer and you just dodge the tax, but the gangs have a head start.
“We have also seen cigarettes in single packets look like real British cigarettes.
“Some dishonest retailers even sell them on their portals as proper products. “
Warning signs for fake cigarettes include packages without unique barcodes and public health warnings.
The government has set a goal of ending smoking by 2030, due to the adverse effects on public health.