Illicit tobacco report, ‘a long time coming’

The final report by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement into illicit tobacco scheduled for today is welcomed by Imperial Brands Australasia.

The report has said to be a ‘long time coming’.

“The illicit tobacco problem in Australia is out of control, with 20.7% of the market now represented by illegal products, costing the Federal Government $3.2 billion in evaded duty, which instead is funnelled into criminal syndicates with links to serious crimes including human trafficking and terrorism,” says Head of Corporate and Legal Affairs, Kirsten Daggar-Nickson.

“We have been calling for increased enforcement capabilities at both federal and state level to address this considerate issue and appeared before the joint committee to present industry intelligence which suggests criminal gangs are gaining in sophistication in order to evade authorities.”

Ms Daggar-Nickson continues, “We recognise the role of governments and public health agencies in the regulation of tobacco products and support those measures that are reasonable, proportionate and evidence based, however the government must address the illicit tobacco disaster in Australia which is also claiming the businesses of legitimate retailers.

“While the creation of the Illicit Tobacco Task Force (ITTF) on 1 July 2018 was a critical first step, much more needs to be done, with the most pressing area of policy reform being enhanced enforcement at the retail level, where currently there is only minimal action taken.

“Intelligence tells us around 46% of people who purchase illicit tobacco do so from tobacconists (including the ‘pop up” category) and Asian supermarkets; but the most telling factor this is that the ‘Others’ category is often the biggest, indicating these products are widely available.

“We have called for an increase in law enforcement at retail level to ensure the current ‘top down’ approach is complemented by a ‘bottom up’ approach and suggested the inquiry address inadequacies in State and Territory legislation and enforcement especially where it concerns retailers and an increase in other resources to law enforcement, such as scanning equipment and sniffer dogs.”

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