When Australia decided to introduce the plain packaging of cigarettes, with cigarettes being sold in standardized, non-branded packs, it became difficult for smokers to resort to bringing in illicit cigarettes from other sources since these would be in the old, branded packages, meaning that they would be very easily recognizable. It appears that now this is no longer true and the Australian cigarette business is once again plagued by huge quantities of illicit tobacco products sold by terrorists and other organized crime sources.
The reason why this has become possible is Ireland’s decision to phase in plain packaging as well, enabling the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to gain access to plainly packaged cigarettes that they use in order to enter the Australian cigarette market. This is because the plain packaging policy has rendered the anti-forgery packaging designs of cigarettes illegal, meaning that these packages can no longer be used as a way of protecting consumers from illicit products.
A recent arrest in Spain, of a former IRA bomber, has revealed that he was collaborating with a Malaysian businessman with the intent of flooding Australia with cheap cigarettes in plain packets, while according to The Times newspaper organised criminals in Manchester now represent 1.3 percent of the Australian cigarettes market.
In fact, Manchester Police are currently investigating a criminal gang, which is believed to be linked to a company called JSS Tobacco, whose registered office is empty and their company secretary was a third-party service acting on behalf of a businessman in Dubai. Police sources said they believe that this case is “one of the largest organised crime set-ups in relation to international tobacco importation,” also pointing out that smuggling operation they have already uncovered is worth £45m.
In another development, following the recent announcement by the British government that it also intends to introduce plain packaging in cigarettes, concerns have risen that once such a Bill is passed smugglers will also be able to take advantage of the lucrative UK market. Reacting to this decision and in an attempt to protect their businesses, tobacco firms are now considering suing the British government for theft of intellectual property in a move that could cost the British taxpayer £11bn.
However, as we have repeatedly highlighted in previous posts, getting hold of cheap cigarettes is absolutely feasible in legal ways and you don’t have to resort to contraband cigarettes, giving money to terrorists and criminals and risking to get yourself into trouble with the law. Instead you can buy cheap cigarettes from reliable online vendors, such as those we feature on our guide and you can use the tools we provide you with, such our brand-specific price comparison tables to be sure that you are indeed buying your favourite cigarette brand at the lowest possible price.