Combatting illicit tobacco trade through stronger regimes

Australia has established one of the strongest regulatory regimes for tobacco in the world as a result of significant reforms to the Customs Act 1901 implemented in July 2019.

Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Jason Wood MP said that the Australian Government is committed to combatting the illicit tobacco trade, and disrupting black economy activities at our borders.

“The Government implemented these important reforms to deter illicit trade in tobacco, and enable us to take strong action against the criminal actors behind it,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

“A key feature of the reform was the new requirement for importers to obtain a permit for tobacco imports, including cigarettes, molasses tobacco and loose leaf tobacco.”

“If you import certain tobacco products without a permit, your goods can be seized and immediately destroyed. You may also face financial penalties and prosecution.”

“Illicit tobacco sales have been linked to organised crime and wider black economy activity, and money spent on these goods goes straight into the pockets of these criminals.”

“Members of the public must consider what they are really buying and are reminded that purchasing illicit tobacco in any form is illegal and can result in prosecution.”

The establishment of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, led by the Australian Border Force (ABF), has enhanced the ability of the Australian Government to protect Commonwealth revenue by proactively detecting, disrupting and dismantling serious organised criminal syndicates that deal in illicit tobacco.

“In the 2019-20 financial year, the ABF detected and seized illicit tobacco worth an estimated $621 million in evaded duty,” Assistant Minister Wood said.

“I commend the ABF and its partner agencies on their ongoing achievements in disrupting the supply of illicit tobacco.”

Information on importing tobacco can be found on the ABF website.

People with information about the illicit importation of tobacco should contact Border Watch at​. By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia’s border. Information can be provided anonymously.

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