Children buy poisoned cigarettes in Middlesbrough
Cheap cigarettes containing rat poison, battery acid and dead flies are being sold to children as young as seven in Middlesbrough, says Trading Standards.
Middlesbrough Trading Standards says there are 50 "Tab houses" in the town selling illegal cigarettes at half the price of legitimate shops.
Organised criminal gangs oversee the production of some cigarettes in factories in China and Eastern Europe.
They are smuggled into the country and sold from private houses.
Trading Standards tested a recent seizure of cigarettes in Middlesbrough and found them to contain not only rat poison and battery acid but also 130% more tar than regular cigarettes.
John Wells, of Middlesbrough Council, said: "We've seen children as young as seven or eight on some of the footage that we've got and some of the cases we're taking through.
"But generally they're between 13 and 14 which is a lot younger than the legal age of 18 for buying and selling cigarettes."