Smokers in Stoke-on-Trent will be warned about the dangers of fake cigarettes and tobacco as part of a high profile campaign.
Public protection officers from the city council will set up a stall in Hanley indoor market to give advice and information during national No Smoking Day.
The event will take place on Wednesday, March 13 and the team will be available from 10am-3pm.
Information on how to identify counterfeit cigarettes and rolling tobacco – which are often cut-price – will be available along with details of the health dangers that fakes pose.
Counterfeit cigarettes may be cheaper and appear to be a bargain but previous analysis has shown high levels of cyanide, traces of plastic and sand as well as insect remains and other items.
Although fakes are often hard to identify, the print quality is generally poor and the packets soon fall apart. Counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco have a distinct taste and are generally much stronger – and more harmful - than genuine versions.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “Fake cigarettes are extremely dangerous and doctors have warned that they cause four times as many deaths as drugs. Although the packaging may look authentic, counterfeit tobacco is made from highly toxic materials and has even been found to contain rat droppings.
“Public safety is paramount to us and we are determined to protect families in the city. We are cracking down on this issue and, following an increase in the number of fakes being sold in the city’s pubs and clubs, as well as at car boot sales and independent shops in recent years, we are urging anyone who is aware of counterfeit cigarettes being traded to call the city council’s fakes hotline on 01782 238444.”
Free advice and support on how to kick the tobacco habit once and for all will also be available on national No Smoking Day from a stand in Boots the Chemist, Market Street, in Hanley.
No Smoking Day was launched in 1983 to support people who wanted to stop smoking.
It aims to highlight the many sources of help available and is the UK's foremost public health event.