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The Downside of Increasing Tobacco Taxes in Australia

The Downside of Increasing Tobacco Taxes in Australia 

The Australian government’s decision to increase taxes on tobacco to reduce smoking has led to unintended consequences, including a rise in black market trade. According to James Martin, a senior criminology lecturer at Deakin University, the increased tobacco taxes have contributed to the uptake of vaping in Australia and a significant boom in the black market.

In 2013, the Australian government implemented a 12.5% increase in tobacco taxes, which continued to rise each year. The goal was to reduce the number of smokers by making tobacco products more expensive. According to ABC News, this policy was effective in getting people to quit smoking. However, the unintended consequences of the policy have raised concerns.

Martin explains that the increased tobacco taxes have created a supply and demand problem, leading to the growth of the black market for tobacco products. Black market vendors can sell tobacco products for about half the price of regulated markets and have begun to include nicotine vapes in their offerings. Martin believes that this is a consequence of people who have been priced out of legal cigarettes still wanting to consume nicotine.

Moreover, the increased tobacco taxes have accelerated the uptake of vaping in Australia. According to a survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 11.3% of adults in Australia have tried vaping at least once, and 1.8% are current users. Martin believes that the higher tobacco prices have made vaping a more attractive option for smokers looking for a cheaper and less regulated alternative.

The rise in black market trade has raised concerns about the safety of these products. Unregulated tobacco products could contain higher levels of harmful substances, posing a health risk to consumers. Furthermore, the lack of regulation could mean that the products are not being taxed, leading to a loss of revenue for the government.

In conclusion, the Australian government’s policy of increasing tobacco taxes has had unintended consequences, including the growth of the black market for tobacco products and the accelerated uptake of vaping. While the policy was successful in reducing the number of smokers, it is crucial to address the unintended consequences and find solutions that balance the need to reduce smoking with the need to prevent the growth of the black market and ensure public health and safety.

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