Illicit Tobacco in Australia

For the first time since the implementation of Australia’s plain packaging experiment we now have hard data to replace the anecdotes and predictions about its true impact, and the data show that since the introduction of this policy the black market has grown while consumption of tobacco overall has not declined.

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“Since the introduction of this policy the black market has grown while consumption of tobacco overall has not declined.”

This report  shows that smugglers and counterfeiters have been the big winners in Australia since the implementation of plain packaging at a great loss to the treasury. In less than a year, consumption of illegal, branded cigarettes, some of which now enjoy higher market share than legal brands in Australia, has increased by 154 percent. As a result, the government has lost up to  AUD1.0 billion in tax revenue, while the criminal gangs behind this activity have lined their pockets.

PMI supports reasonable regulation, but we believe governments have a responsibility to ensure the laws they pass meet their stated goals, uphold the rule of law, are evaluated based on objective standards and do not lead to negative consequences, such as boosting the illegal market at the expense of legitimate manufacturers and retailers. As studies quantifying actual changes in behavior and the marketplace since the introduction of plain packaging continue to come out of Australia, it is our hope that this evidence will not be ignored.

Related Downloads

KPMG reportPDF 1119kb

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