BRIDLINGTON has been identified as an illegal cigarette and tobacco hotspot.
Customs officers believe smuggled and counterfeit goods are changing hands in the town and surrounding villages and have included the area among 10 others in a crackdown campaign across North and East Yorkshire.
A senior officer said their belief was based on "intelligence received about local activity".
Hull-based John Kinghorn, HM Revenue and Customs head of detection for the North East, said "The most likely places where people sell them are in pubs and clubs but they are also sold from houses, sometimes to youngsters."
Mr Kinghorn wants to work with the local public to catch the pedlars of illegal tobacco, much of which comes into the area through Hull docks вЂ“ where More than 30 million smuggled Cigarettes and one tonne of hand-rolling tobacco were intercepted during the last eight months.
Cigarettes, including fake SuperKings, Marlborough, Regal and Lambert and Butler, are coming into the country, mainly from the Far East and former Soviet countries, and finding their way onto Bridlington's streets and into nearby villages.
According to HMRC research, legal retailers are suffering and the illegal trade holds serious health risks for buyers.
Most illegal tobacco contains a much deadlier cocktail of harmful toxins than regulated brands including 160% More tar, 80% More nicotine, 133% More carbon monoxide and five times the level of cadmium than regulated brands.
It can also contain arsenic and lead.
"The risk to health is much increased. That is particularly worrying with young people who after about five of these Cigarettes have probably smoked the equivalent of a normal packet of 20," said Mr Kinghorn.
Spotting illegal goods is not easy, especially when people may have legitimately brought them from a foreign holiday.
The best clue is where they are sold and at what price.
Pubs, clubs, market stalls, factory floors, even "under the counter" at sMall retail outlets, are favourite places and prices are between ?2.50 and ?3.50 a packet.
"The forgers can make a carton of 200 Cigarettes norMally costing ?50 for just ?1 so their profits are huge. Packets of hand-rolling tobacco norMally costing ?8 would sell for around ?5.
HMRC wants people to help them track down the culprits.
It has set up confidential reporting lines for the public to tell it about illegal smugglers, those trading in Cigarettes or tobacco and other smuggling activities.
People can ring 01482 785840 or text information to 07710 633736. There is also a national, confidential line on 0800 595 000.
The penalties for being involved in the illegal trade are severe.
They include having goods and any vehicle involved seized, unlimited fines and up to seven years imprisonment with the confiscation of any benefit gained.
Anyone trading in illicit tobacco without a genuine UK duty-paid mark can be fined up to ?5,000 and banned from selling tobacco products for up to six months.
Anyone allowing their premises to be used for the sale of unmarked tobacco products, such as a pub, club or shop, faces a fine of up to ?5,000