Efforts to reduce smoking and improve health are being hampered by the black market trade of millions of illegal cigarettes filled with excrement, dead flies and asbestos, local authority leaders have warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said fake cigarettes also pose a fire risk, damage honest businesses and cost the UK economy around £3 billion a year in unpaid duty.
Recent council efforts to crack down on the illicit trade have led to the seizure of hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes in Bristol.
Trading standards officers have found fake cigarettes hidden inside vacuum cleaners, under floorboards and in toilet cisterns.
Some have contained asbestos, mould, dust, dead flies, rat droppings and human excrement. Many feature much higher levels of toxic ingredients than genuine cigarettes.