The recently passed plain packaging legislation was criticized by the tobacco industry as likely to encourage counterfeiting of cigarettes. This was dismissed by the government as ‘big tobacco’ propaganda. A short search of the web though indicates that a serious problem already exists in relation to counterfeit cigarettes as well as chop chop tobacco. The following press release gives some idea of the scope, as well as how police action benefits the major companies:
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) spokesperson Scott McIntyre today congratulated the NSW Police, Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs and Operation Polaris on the seizure of 60 tonnes of illegal “chop chop” tobacco and 25 million counterfeit cigarettes.Given that only a very small proportion of containers entering the country are actually checked, the following is telling, and could be just the tip of the iceberg, as well as the presence of organized crime:
Mr McIntyre said operations like this by authorities are a strong deterrent and would hopefully put a dent in the growing Australian illegal tobacco trade. “We’d like to see the Federal Government invest more into resources to stop illegal tobacco which last year saw nearly three million tonnes of loose leaf tobacco and black market cigarettes make their way onto our streets,” BATA spokesperson Scott McIntyre said.
The war against organised crime on Australia's waterfront has secured a series of high-profile arrests that police say have smashed alleged drug networks operating through Sydney's ports.Overseas, the Mexican drug cartels are in on the act:
In the past three months, the Polaris taskforce - the Australian Federal Police-led operation that involves the Customs Service, NSW Police and associated agencies - has arrested four Sydney waterfront workers, two men with connections to the docks and a former wharfie. …
… Mr Clare did not respond to emailed questions and declined requests to be interviewed. In a statement, his spokesman said that since inception in July 2010, Polaris had made 20 arrests resulting in 113 charges, seized more than 12 tonnes of illicit substances and precursor chemicals for drugs, 119 tonnes of illicit tobacco and 92 million cigarettes, preventing the evasion of about $77 million in tax revenue.
MEXICO CITY--A Mexican industrial group said Tuesday an increase in tax on cigarettes that went into effect in 2011 has led to a proliferation of contraband, and that illegal cigarettes now account for nearly 17% of the cigarettes sold in the country. The Confederation of Industrial Chambers, or Concamin, said tobacco consumption hasn't declined in the year-and-a-half since the higher tobacco tax took effect, although the sale of illegal cigarettes has reached record levels.The same applies in the US:
The study's results will come as little surprise to residents of Chicago, New York and Rhode Island, where illicit sales of untaxed cigarettes have long been common due to smokers' desire to avoid paying taxes that bring the cost of a pack of premium-brand cigarettes to over $10 per pack in Manhattan.These idiots running the show are making tobacco, a legal product, the new marijuana.
Cigarette tax proponents continue to advocate for tax increases that would "improve public health" while providing more revenue for state, national, or even (in the case of the WHO) international spending items.