Four tobacco companies in France have been accused of "deliberately endangering people's lives" by cheating tests in order to hide the real levels of nicotine and tar in their cigarettes, in a case that echos the "Dieselgate" scandal that engulfed Volkswagen.
France's National Committee Against Smoking (CNCT) has lodged a complaint against the French subsidiaries of four tobacco companies, saying that the amount of nicotine and tar contained in their cigarettes is in reality much higher than tests are showing.
According to the anti-smoking organisation the products made by these companies include tar levels between two and 10 times higher than recorded by the machines and fives times higher levels of nicotine.
They have accused the companies of coming up with an inventive way of deliberately hiding the amount of toxic ingredients their cigarettes contain.
"They have created a device in cigarettes that can deceive the machines that are supposed to control the amounts of tar and nicotine," Pierre Kopp, a member of the CNCT told Europe 1
This "device" is the tiny filter holes at the end of cigarettes which the organisation says work differently in test environments and in real life.
All cigarettes currently on the market are pierced with these tiny holes invisible to the naked eye, which supposedly "ventilate" the inhaled smoke.
The committee says that during tests these holes remain uncovered, heavily diluting the smoke with air.
However when people are smoking, these holes are generally covered by their fingers or lips which greatly increases the amount of nicotine and tar being inhaled.
But why would tobacco companies want their customers to inhale more tar and nicotine?
The short answer is to make the consumer even more addicted, according to the anti-smoking organisation.
To combat these tactics, the CNCT wants the tabacco companies taken to court, the removal of the filter holes from cigarettes and for the victims to be compensated.
The tobacco companies have not yet responded to the accusations.