Tobacco Import Ban Is Just A Smokescreen

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, a 75,000+ member national grassroots advocacy group representing the nation’s taxpayers, today condemned the government’s ban on tobacco imports through the mail stream.

“This law is about exerting social control over Australian adults, not about stopping illegal tobacco smugglers." said Satya Marar, ATA Director of Policy. "Under current rules, customs already checks incoming packages for tobacco when they come through the mail, and Australians must pay the required duties to secure the product. The loss of this revenue stream only means more taxes levied on the rest of us to fund government waste and largesse.

“Rather than tackling the smoking scourge or tobacco smuggling trade, the biggest victims of the rule change will be cigar aficionados, many of whom aren’t habitual smokers. Regular smokers suffering from addiction can simply purchase tobacco at convenience stores instead, and most already do.

“This harebrained idea is par for the course for Australia’s health policy and tobacco control failures which have resulted in stagnant quit rates since 2013, whilst those of the UK, USA, and European Union have decreased significantly.

“Since tobacco plain packaging was introduced in 2012, brand competition has been replaced by price competition and this has increased the market share of cheap and contraband products. Banning tobacco imports through the mail stream will only amplify this problem. It also plays into the hands of big tobacco companies who don’t like competition, and smugglers whose products will face the same detection controls that they did prior to the ban.

“The rapid decrease in smoking rates in countries that have seen an uptake of nicotine vaping show that consumer choice-focused strategies, such as increasing access to proven reduced harm nicotine delivery products, is responsible public health policy that genuinely assists those trying to quit and improve their health. This is why Public Health England recognises that these products are at least 95 percent safer than cigarettes, and recommends them to smokers trying to quit.

“Australian policy-makers need to get their heads out of the sand and embrace international best practice by lifting the ban on nicotine vaping. Otherwise, they remain complicit in the premature smoking-related deaths of 19,000+ Australians a year.”

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