Illegal tobacco facing clamp
27/10/21; Herald Sun, Victoria
THE state government will launch a review into tobacco regulation in a desperate bid to combat the sale and distribution of illicit tobacco across Victoria.
The trade is favoured by organised crime syndicates because of the big profits and minimal enforcement risks.
This year the Sunday Herald Sun revealed criminals were raking in more than $800m a year in the illicit tobacco trade, with 2.2 million kilograms consumed nationwide in 2020.
Commissioner for Better Regulation Anna Cronin will carry out the independent review of Victoria’s tobacco laws and provide recommendations on ways to improve licensing, compliance and regulatory powers.
It follows a recent report from the federal parliament’s joint committee on law enforcement, which said stronger regulation was needed to tackle the sale and distribution of “chop chop”.
In August, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party MP Tania Maxwell called on the government to rein in the “insidious” trade.
Ms Maxwell welcomed the review but said she would continue to push the government to make retail tobacco licensing mandatory.
Victoria and Queensland are the only jurisdictions without a regulated licensing scheme for the sale of tobacco.
Local council environment health officers are responsible for checking cigarettes and other tobacco products sold are lawfully produced.
“Only when the state equips law enforcement with strong investigation and compliance powers will Victoria begin to butt out this illegal trade,” Ms Maxwell said.
She added the trade “effectively steals from our communities because illegal resellers don’t pay millions in excise used to fund health and education services”.