Millions of fake or bootlegged cigarettes are being sold throughout the UK on the black market to avoid paying duty on them.
County councils in Hertfordshire, Durham and Lincolnshire have found illegal cigarettes stashed behind walls, hidden in toilet cisterns and in sweet boxes.
The selling of fake cigarettes results in over £2bn of tax being avoided and undermines efforts from authorities to cut the number of people who smoke.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government to impose tougher penalties on those found guilty of trading tax-free or fake cigarettes and tobacco on the black market.
Last week, a 72-year-old man was fined £35,000 by Durham County Council after caught trying to sell a 20 pack of Brass cigarettes for £3.50 in a sting operation.
After a search it was revealed he had more than 100,000 illegal cigarettes stashed away.
Similarly, a man from Peterborough, named Karwan Salim Ahamed, was ordered to do 200 hours community service and pay a fine of £5,000 after being found using fake Facebook profiles to sell illegal cigarettes in a local group on the social media site.
Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, has warned against buying illegal, fake cigarettes.
“The sale of cheap, illegal tobacco by rogue traders in shops, private homes and through social media is funding organised criminal gangs and damaging legitimate traders, as well as making it easier for young people to get hooked on smoking, which undermines councils' efforts to help people quit,” he said.
"No cigarette is good for you, but fake cigarettes contain even higher levels of cancer-causing toxins than standard cigarettes, so people should think twice about buying them."
Bootlegged or fake cigarettes are usually brought into the country from abroad and although are made to look like UK leading brands, typically have foreign health advisories and no picture warnings.