According to the statement released by AACS, the operation has cost retailers of legal tobacco millions in legitimate sales while putting the public at risk.
AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said the illicit tobacco market has an enormous impact on responsible retailers, convenience store owners and their employees, which doesn’t merely affects losing businesses but it also has an impact on their safety.
“Regulations like plain packaging and endless excise increases have resulted in Australia becoming one of the world’s most lucrative markets for black market tobacco. It is astonishingly rife in communities around the country. The illicit tobacco market has huge economic ramifications for small businesses and the Government, and is also a major public safety issue,” Rogut said.
“From a financial perspective, more than just lost sales of legal tobacco products, convenience
stores face higher insurance costs and additional security needs – costs that must be borne by retailers themselves.”
KPMG estimates below 14 per cent of all tobacco consumed in 2016 Australia were illegal. This equates to over $1.6 billion in lost tax revenue each year to the Australian Government, though some sources estimate this figure to be significantly more, according to the AACS statement.
“Then there are the increasing safety concerns, with violent robberies targeting cigarettes being an
all too common reality for convenience store employees. It is unacceptable that anyone should have to fear for their safety in the course of doing their job,” Rogut said. “The need for a strong, zero tolerance response to illicit tobacco crimes is a matter of urgency. We therefore support the Black Market Taskforce’s call for a Federal Government blitz on illegal tobacco.”
The AACS has previously called on the Government to issue a clear directive so the authority responsible for policing the distribution and sale of illicit tobacco is aware of the extent of this illegal activity, including its role in tracking down these criminals to be brought to justice.
“We have also asked the Federal Government to review its policies and impose a moratorium on future tobacco excise increases so the illicit tobacco market in Australia can be brought under Illicit Tobacco in Australia 2016, KPMG, May 2017 Illicit tobacco purchased in June 2017 from a Melbourne market open to families and children control and, more importantly, to stop tobacco becoming a target for violent robberies which occur with alarming regularity now, putting people’s lives at risk,” Rogut added.