Millions of fake cigarettes are entering the UK and undermining efforts to cut smoking, councils have warned.
Herefordshire, Lincolnshire and Durham county councils in 2018 found illegal stashes of cigarettes behind shop walls, in sweet boxes and toilets.
Fake or “bootlegged” tobacco products are sold on the black market to avoid paying duty, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
The illegal trade diverts £2.1bn a year in tax from HM Revenue and Customs.
In one case, Peterborough man Karwan