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Tobacco excise increase sees black market thrive

Luke Grant

The effectiveness of Australia’s anti-smoking measures has come under scrutiny, after a KPMG study revealed spikes in cigarette excise may be driving smokers towards the illicit market.

Though tobacco consumption subsided by 6.1% in the 2016-2017 time period, the black market supply share climbed to a record 15%. This comes at a cost of $2 billion in lost revenue for the government.

Tobacco control expert Colin Mendelsohn, says government needs to rethink their game plan, with excise  arrangements proving counterproductive.

“Putting prices up causes more harm then good. It generates an illicit  trade and creates enormous financial distress for people who just can’t quit,” he says.

“The excise isn’t working and we need to be looking for more creative and innovative solutions.”

Mr Mendelsohn says that policy needs to be more accepting of the fact that some people cannot quit. In this instance,  tobacco harm reduction needs to be the aim, not punishing, ineffectual tax levies.

“These are alternatives to excise, like e-cigarettes. They’re at least 95% less harmful then smoking. But unfortunately they’re not endorsed.”

“We’re making policy not on evidence, but on political, moral and ideological reasons. “

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Luke Grant
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