Labor throws $190m at dodgy durry imports

2 minute read

Stopping illegal tobacco before or at the border will kill an organised crime cash cow.

Vapes aren’t the only lung-busters being targeted by the feds, with the Albanese government committing $188.5 million over four years to help Border Force crack down on the illegal importation of tobacco.

Victoria is in the midst of a so-called “tobacco war”, with another suspicious tobacconist fire early on Sunday morning in Craigieburn. On Saturday, Victoria Police said it had arrested four men and a boy – allegedly connected to the Finks motorcycle gang – after four tobacco stores and a cafe were torched between Christmas Day and Friday. The offenders allegedly forced entry to the shops before setting them on fire.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said illegal tobacco was “an ATM for the illegal activities of organised crime” and helped fund activities including drug and sex trafficking.

The funding injection for the ABF will “deliver a new compliance model in partnership with the states and territories”, according to today’s announcement from the DoHAC.

The program aims to stem the flow of illicit tobacco before it gets to Australia and boost capacity at the border, including intelligence gathering, targeting criminal syndicates and using AI for detection.

“Along with our updated tobacco packaging and our world leading vaping reforms, the government is acting to target the scourge of illicit tobacco by appointing Australia’s first illegal tobacco and vape commissioner,” said Mr Butler.

“We cannot stand by and allow another generation of people to be lured into addiction and suffer the enormous health, economic and social consequences.

“Reducing availability of illicit tobacco is critical to tobacco control. We know that the main driver that reduces illicit is the same one that reduces licit tobacco – declining consumption.”

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