COUNTERFEIT cigarettes and alcohol are sold at a big discount Counterfeit cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are often easier to spot than other types of counterfeit goods, as their price alone should be enough to warrant suspicion.
Counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol are almost always sold at a big discount compared with genuine products sold on the high street.
Sellers may say the products are imported from countries where cigarettes and alcohol are cheaper, and that low prices are due the absence of UK duty. Not only is this likely to be false and the cigarettes and alcohol products counterfeit, but it’s also illegal to avoid paying tax and duty fees on tobacco and alcohol products.
How to spot counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol
Look out for spelling mistakes and altered logos. Counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol products often imitate well-known brands but incorporate subtle differences or mistakes. The most copied counterfeit cigarettes are Super Kings, Benson & Hedges, Lambert & Butler, Camel, Embassy Number 1, Embassy Regal and Golden Virginia Tobacco. Famous brand-name spirits are the most counterfeited forms of alcohol.
You’ll most likely be offered counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol away from shops in situations where it’s harder to trace the seller. Be particularly cautious of street markets, car boot sales, pubs and street sellers. Low quality labels and packaging are a further sign of counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol.
If you're offered cigarettes and alcohol anywhere that isn’t a licensed shop or bar, they're likely to be counterfeits. Foreign safety warnings or no health warnings at all, are tell tale signs of counterfeit or illegal cigarettes. If you’ve already bought cut-price cigarettes and alcohol, you may notice that they have an unusual or unexpected taste.
The dangers of counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol
Not only are counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol inferior to the real thing, they are often more dangerous, too. Counterfeit cigarettes regularly contain much higher levels of nicotine than genuine brands, and produce more harmful carbon monoxide. They could also incorporate a seriously unhealthy mix of cancer-causing chemicals including arsenic, cadmium, benzene and formaldehyde – far greater than genuine cigarettes.
Counterfeit alcoholic drinks can also be bad for you. Counterfeit spirits can contain high levels of methanol, a chemical that can cause liver damage, breathing difficulties, coma and even death. Alcohol may be watered down and cigarettes padded out with worthless leaves from non-tobacco plants.