Teenagers face an added risk of being asked for sexual favours if they smoke toxic fake cigarettes from so-called “fag houses”.
Counterfeit cigarettes and banned imports like Jin Ling – the brand that led to the death of a Spalding woman in a house fire – are still being seized from shops in Spalding and Holbeach.
But it’s not known whether smoking dens at private homes, known as fag houses, are up and running and selling illegal cigarettes in South Holland.
Smokefree Lincs Alliance says fag houses are believed to be operating in Boston, Sleaford, Lincoln and Mablethorpe.
Alliance spokesman Ros Watson said fag houses present twin dangers to young people, a major risk to health from smoking contaminated cigarettes and the risk of “being propositioned in return for tobacco”.
Miss Watson said: “Young people are putting themselves at risk by going into a stranger’s house obviously wanting to purchase something that they should not be old enough to purchase.”
Miss Watson said fakes are bulked up by floor sweepings and tests have revealed metals like cadmium, which is used in car batteries, animal droppings and higher than normal levels of nicotine.
She said organised crime gangs behind the trade pour all their resources into the packaging to “fool the public into thinking it’s the original product and they don’t worry too much about the contents”.
Lincolnshire Police licensing officer PC Dale Walker said officers have seized a combination of fake cigarettes and illegal East European imports from shops in Spalding and Holbeach, including 3,140 in February, 2,160 in June and 560 last month.
PC Walker said shops trading in illegal cigarettes lose their licences.
Police spokesman James Newall said: “We assist HMRC in a number of operations every year and we have a relatively high success rate in terms of disrupting the distribution of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes.
“We would advise against purchase of any products like this as in many cases they contain extremely harmful substances.”
Customs spokesman Maddy Ratnett said people smoke fakes and banned imports without realising the danger to health.