A tobacconist based at Bondi Junction in Sydney has been fined a record $72,000 for selling illegal tobacco and has also been banned from selling tobacco at the store for 12 months.
A spokesperson for Imperial Tobacco Australia says this significant penalty will deter other retailers and businesses from selling illicit tobacco.
“We congratulate the agencies and departments involved in this operation for their diligence and the resultant success,” the spokesperson said. “This significant fine and, more importantly, banning the outlet from selling tobacco for 12 months, will act as a deterrent to any retailers tempted to sell illicit tobacco.
“We’ve been advocating for greater enforcement and tougher penalties at the retail level for some time. Our intelligence has shown that illicit tobacco is being sold through legitimate retailers. Preventing a retailer from being able to sell legal tobacco is a major disincentive and one that won’t be ignored. This example of enforcement and resulting penalties are a monumental step in the right direction of addressing the problem of illicit tobacco in Australia.
Illegal tobacco consumption in Australia is now estimated to be worth up to $1.61 billion in foregone excise revenue, highlighting the need for a coordinated national approach to combat black market smuggling and production.
“A national anti-illicit tobacco strategy is needed to help coordinate industry and law enforcement efforts to ensure ongoing support for dealing with this serious criminal issue.
“A National Anti-Illicit Tobacco Strategy was introduced in the UK in 2000 and has since reduced the illicit cigarette market from 22 per cent in 2000-01 to 10 per cent in 2013-14, resulting in a reduction in lost revenue from £3.4 billion ($5.8 billion) to £2.1 billion ($3.6 billion).
“We’re prepared to work with all interested parties with an interest in successfully combatting these criminal activities undermining our society. Ignoring the problem will only see the use of illicit tobacco continue to grow.”