The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has voiced its support for the Government crackdown on illegal tobacco products.
The Black Market Taskforce has called on the Federal Government to blitz the illicit tobacco industry which costs honest retailers millions in lost sales and is a public health and safety risk.
AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said the illegal tobacco market has an enormous negative impact on responsible retailers as well as c-store owners and staff.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Mr Rogut also noted the increasing safety concerns as c-stores are commonly robbed for their cigarette and tobacco products.
“It is unacceptable that anyone should have to fear for their safety in the course of doing their job,” he 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.”
KPMG estimated that around 14% of all tobacco consumed in Australia in 2016 was illegal. This is equal to over $1.6 billion in lost tax revenue for the Australian Government over the course of one year.
A survey conducted by AACS in September 2016 found that 81% of Australians who participated in the survey believed that there should be tougher penalties for selling illegal tobacco products in shops.
It also found that 77% of consumers were concerned with crime syndicates that use profits from illegal tobacco to fund other criminal activities including illicit drugs.