Australia: Tobacco Company Fights Anti-smoking Laws by Importing Cheap Cigarettes

The Australian government’s active efforts to induce a cross-country reduction in smoking by causing a hike in taxes and plain packaging rates in smoking rates are being undercut by tobacco companies. The tobacco giant British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) has introduced a $13 pack of 25 cigarettes into the Australian market.

These ‘cut-price’ line of cigarettes, known by their shelf name of Rothmans, claim to be the cheapest on the market and are enticing more people to smoke due to their inexpensive price tag. Despite infuriating anti-smoking lobbying campaigns, BATA hinted at the possibility of lowering cigarette prices even further to cater to the new demands of the cut-price line of cigarettes.

It is a  well-known fact that high cigarette prices are major deterrents for smokers, cigarette suppliers are justifying selling cut-price line cigarettes as strategic motions to retain market shares in an industry that is facing tough government opposition.

The government implemented cigarette taxes last December that saw a 12.5 percent tobacco excise each year over a four year period, increasing the average price of a pack of cigarettes to between $20 and $25 while simultaneously raising approximately $5 billion in government revenue.

On the contrary, BATA spokesperson Scott McIntyre made claims that the increase in cigarette taxes has driven consumers, especially between the ages of 18 years and 30 years, to search for cheaper options. According to BATA, the cheap cigarette sector saw a 66 percent increase in the past five years, with more than 42 percent of all cigarettes being priced under $15 per pack.

Health campaigners have called for even stronger government actions to curb the trend of increasing smoking rates as a result of cut-price line cigarettes. Anti-smoking campaigns are pushing for an absolute minimum price for cigarettes across the board and the subsidization of nicotine patches to encourage smokers to quit rather than take up smoking. Enditem