Jet and Hero products, which account for over 90 percent of contraband cigarettes in Vietnam, contain excess levels of toxic chemicals, according to tests conducted by the Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation.
The institute recently said that independent tests found that the nicotine content of Jet and Hero tobacco products exceeded permissible levels in Vietnam.
The products' cadmium content was found to be 2.11 mg/kg and 2.69 mg/kg, respectively, the report found.
Meanwhile, the average cadmium content found in 54 cigarette brands was only 1.48 mg/kg, according to the institute.
The national organization calculated that those who smoke a pack of Jet or Hero cigarettes a day, inhale around 50 mg of cadmium.
According to the agency, the allowable daily human intake of cadmium is only 20-40 mg--exceeding that level boosts one's risk of contracting liver disease, ischemia, high blood pressure, according to the association.
The importation of cigarettes has been illegal in Vietnam since 1990, so all Jet and Hero cigarettes are smuggled into the country.
Around 850 million packs of Jet and Hero tobacco products are smuggled into Vietnam each year, according to the Vietnam Tobacco Association.
Jet and Hero cigarette brands are mostly smuggled from Cambodia to Vietnam. The products are said to be made in Indonesia and then exported to Cambodia with preferential taxes.
More than one billion packs of cigarette have been smuggled into Vietnam so far this year, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has reported -- noting that the illicit trade could cause a loss of over VND8 trillion (US$377.7 million) to the state budget.