Stoke City Football Club are backing Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s drive to fight fake cigarette sales over Christmas.
City midfielder Salif Diao will be the face of the campaign during the Potters game with Blackpool this weekend, to tie in with the council’s efforts to clamp down on counterfeiters over the Christmas period.
The counterfeits, which are often packaged to resemble well known brands, are offered for sale at severely reduced prices to tempt people into buying them – but these cigarettes are made from highly toxic materials that can even include rat droppings.
The fakes are so dangerous that doctors have warned they are responsible for four times as many deaths as drugs.
An increasing number of highly dangerous fakes are being sold in the city’s pubs and clubs, as well as venues like car boot sales, markets and even some corner and mobile shops.
To combat the problem Stoke-on-Trent City Council has launched a campaign to raise awareness with posters that are being displayed in shops across the city. Now Stoke City are lending their support to the campaign with information in the matchday programme and around the ground during the Blackpool game.
“Stoke City carry an important brand and we are grateful for their co-operation in helping us get this message across to as many people as possible.
“A lot of these fake products look like the real thing, but even though they appear to be genuine, they are in reality extremely poor reproductions.
“Fake tobacco and cigarettes can contain highly dangerous ingredients like cyanide and have been found to contain plastic, sand and even rat droppings. In many cases the fake cigarettes have been found to be much stronger than genuine ones.
“While the content of all cigarettes is harmful, fake tobacco is even more hazardous than the real thing because they are cheaply made and often contain toxic material in high quantities.”
“The Football Club is active in promoting healthier lifestyles through a number of initiatives and it is important therefore to highlight the dangers of using fake cigarettes.
“While a key aspect of our work is to support people in attempting to give up smoking, we would also want to encourage those who choose to smoke to act responsibly for their own good.”
The public is being urged to report any sales of counterfeit tobacco by contacting the hotline 01782 238444 or going online at www.stoke.gov.uk/fakes. The sale of “bootleg” tobacco on which duty has not been paid can also be reported in this way.