A SKYROCKETING cigarettetax has fuelled fears local black market activity will surge as scorned smokers are “forced” into illegaltobacco trades.
It comes after reports a Wagga store is selling unregulated tobacco over the counter when prompted with a special “code-word”.
NSW Farmers’ local district council chair Alan Brown
Tuesday’s federal budget saw smokers slugged with a taxhikewhichwill seea packof 25 cigarettes cost more than $40 by 2020, up from around $25 today.
The tax was introduced in attempts to “empower smokers to quit”, but locals and farmers have speculated it will amp up the frequency of illegal trading.
NSW Farmers’ local district council chairAlan Brown said black market tobacco trade is already taking place in Wagga, with the recent tax slug set to encouragebootleg trades.
“It’ll be one of the big problems they’ll have to deal with;whenever you have the cost of something rise like this, people are going to try find ways around it,” he said.
“Just like any other time you bring in criminal activity, it’s not good for society as a whole and it brings in a whole array of risks and dangers -there’s no quality control.
“You’d hope it would curb smoking and drive down consumption, but it’s more complicated than that.”
Young residentCarol Walnut believes there will be a black market for tobacco in Wagga without a doubt, which she says, “I would buy from”.
But Wagga motherMelissa Burden saidthere already was a local black market for tobaccoand it“has been around for a very long time”.
Illegaltobacco has thrivedacross Australia in recent years, with a 30 per cent increase in black market trade costing taxpayers more than $1.35 billion, according to a 2015 report by KPMG.
And a local, who refused to be named, has told The Daily Advertiserof a store in Waggawhichsells illegal tobacco when quoted a “code-word”.
“There’s a shop in the main street where you can buy illegal, pre-rolled cigarettes,” the woman, who asked not to be named, said.
“You have to know the secret word and you just rock up and they sell them to you.
“They’re disgusting but it’s only, like, $20 a carton where you pay more than $120 for other cartons of cigarettes. AndIt’s only going to become more popular now the government are putting up prices.”
In 2015, a proposed Wagga CBD smoking ban was shot down by local smokers.
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