Japan Tobacco Inc. said Monday that at least 68 forgeries of two popular cigarette brands have been found in Ibaraki, Saitama and Gunma prefectures.
JT reported the incident to police Monday, claiming violations of the Trademark Law, company officials said.
According to the company, 58 imitation Seven Stars cigarette packs and 10 copies of Mild Seven Lights have been found in the three prefectures since May 9.
The packs are almost identical to the genuine products except for a missing bar code and a wrongly printed Chinese character. Company officials said the cigarettes themselves taste very different.
“We have not heard any complaint about health damage from the copied products but their contents are totally different from the genuine products and their quality is poor,” an official said. “We believe they were made overseas,” the official added.
Seven Stars and Mild Seven Lights are among JT’s best-selling products. JT, which continues to be the sole tobacco producer in Japan even after its privatization in 1985, offers some 120 tobacco brands.
JT said it is the first known discovery of forged tobacco products in Japan, with the exception of a number of cases shortly after World War II.
Some forged JT products can be found in China and some Southeast Asian countries, company officials said.
JT’s predecessor, Japan Tobacco & Salt Public Corp., established in 1949, monopolized tobacco and salt. The government abolished monopoly of tobacco in 1985 and of salt in 1997.