Barnsley Council’s Regulatory Services team is warning residents not to purchase non-duty paid/smuggled cigarettes as they could be putting their lives at risk.

10 packets of smuggled cigarette products, seized since the beginning of the year from Barnsley shops, were analysed by a laboratory in Gateshead last month, before lockdown started. This was thanks to funding provided by the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.

Of these, seven of the products were found to be highly dangerous; posing a risk of fire when left unattended or after they are disposed of. They did not have the safety features required of UK regulated cigarettes.

All legal cigarettes are manufactured to meet a reduced ignition propensity (RIP) requirement. This means they are self-extinguishable, to reduce the chance that they should set fire to sofas, beds and other combustible materials. Some illegal cigarettes are not self-extinguishable and have been attributed to a number of house fires and deaths.

Cllr Jim Andrews, Cabinet Spokesperson for Public Health, said: “No cigarette is good for you, but fake cigarettes contain even higher levels of cancer-causing toxins than standard cigarettes, so people should think twice about buying them – you could be putting your home or your family at risk by smoking them.

“As well as being a fire risk, fake products have also been found to contain high levels of contaminants, for example up to six times the level of lead and three times the level of arsenic found in ordinary cigarettes, as well as rat and mouse droppings and dead insects.

“During this time when people might be experiencing financial difficulties, it might be tempting to buy cheaper cigarettes, but I urge them to put the safety of themselves and their families first.”

Rachel Staniforth, Joint Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit said: “It is encouraging to see that the Fortify funding awarded to Barnsley Council’s Regulatory Services team is resulting in taking illicit goods off the streets of South Yorkshire.

“Not only are these tobacco products dangerous for the health of the individuals, but the purchase of these goods could be funding organised crime in our communities such as drug supply and child criminal exploitation.”

 Signs to look out for when buying cigarettes include:

  • Packaging: Spelling mistakes, incorrect logos or typefaces, foreign health warnings, no picture health warnings. The packet colours are also often different to legal cigarette packets, which are normally a brown or grey colour.
  • Price: Usually cheaper prices
  • Taste: Unusual taste and smell

If you see anyone buying this type of cigarettes in a shop, or have any information illegal tobacco, you can report this to Regulatory Services on 01226 773743.

People who want support to stop smoking can talk to Yorkshire Smokefree advisors on 0800 612 0011 (free from landlines) or 0330 6601 166. More information is available at