The Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has expressed its disappointment in the Federal Government’s lacklustre reply to a set of recommendations put forward in a report by the Joint  Parliamentary Committee on Law Enforcement (PJCLE) to help the convenience store industry fight against illicit tobacco.

“Many of the recommendations put forward by the PJCLE were seen as highly workable solutions to significantly reduce the flow of illegal tobacco on the streets however the Government has largely ignored the plight of the convenience industry in their response” said Theo Foukkare the Chief Executive of AACS said.

“Illicit tobacco not only costs the Federal Government billions of dollars in tax revenue each year, it hurts small retailers who are doing the right thing and playing by the rules. AACS members have had enough when it comes to stopping illegal tobacco and feel abandoned by the Morrison Government’s inaction”. Mr Foukkare added.

The Report this Committee handed down in November last year was seen as broad recognition of the solutions, which included:

  • Proper coordination with state law enforcement officials to stop the illegal products that do escape the detection of the ABF from being sold in dodgy retail outlets.
  • Proactively ensuring the States and Territories have the requisite laws that align themselves with Commonwealth tobacco packaging laws.
  • Mandating the states to have a strategy for the introduction of infringement notices for point-of-sale enforcement when the Commonwealth laws a breached.
  • Ensuring adequate funding is given to tackling the problem.
  • KPMG have put the figure of illicit tobacco in recent years at over 20% of the total tobacco market.

“The Federal Government has failed to recognise these solutions, particularly the key recommendations that a National Strategy on Illicit Tobacco, with full State and Territory coordination is pivotal to reversing the spiralling illicit trend” Mr Foukkare said.

“AACS is calling on the Prime Minister to recognise that the Commonwealth’s responsibility with this problem is more complex than just the good work that is being done by Border Force. Illicit tobacco threatens the economic recovery of the retail sector from COVID with small businesses across the country struggling to keep their doors open” Mr Foukkare concluded.

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