In pursuit of encouraging Australians to quit smoking, the country now has the highest-priced cigarettes in the Asia-Pacific since it raised taxes on cigars in 2016. Unfortunately, this initiative may only have caused more harm than good with the emergence of black market tobaccos that cause far more growing concerns: the possible contamination of carcinogens, with asbestos included.

Illegal Cigarettes Tested to Contain Asbestos

A tobacco tax hike of 12.5% over a 4-year span has driven smokers to turn to the black market for illegally imported cigarettes. In fact, it is estimated that about 14.3% of tobacco – a mix of brands and counterfeit imitations – come from the black market. The majority of these products are smuggled from Asia, predominantly in China.

However, while these cigarettes are far cheaper, tests on these products have shown alarming results. Each cigarette is tested to contain about 80% more nicotine and emit 130% more carbon dioxide than a regular tobacco. Worse still, they may also contain other disturbing contaminants including lead, rat poison, human and animal feces, dead flies and asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen that is the leading cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer, and other respiratory diseases.

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