British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) is considering launching a Make Your Own (MYO) cigarette brand to try and capture the growing number of illegal chop chop smokers.'Chop chop' is the colloquial name for bags of loose unbranded tobacco sold on the black market in Australia by criminal gangs.
BATA spokesperson Scott McIntyre said chop chop or illegal loose leaf tobacco now makes up the majority of the illegal black market and we are being forced to compete with organised crime for market share due to the government’s failed excise system.
“Currently the illegal trade in Australia makes up 14.5 per cent of all tobacco consumed in Australia which is nearly 2.6 million tonnes and a big opportunity for us to steal back consumers,” Mr McIntyre said.By 'failed excise system', McIntyre is referring to two obscene and irresponsible 12.5% increases in tobacco duty which have hugely distorted the Australian tobacco market.
Governments tend to dislike tobacco, we all know that, but such has the hysteria over smoking been whipped up in Australia that they seem to have abandoned all knowledge of the Laffer curve, the principles of Pigovian taxation, and the wise words of J S Mill on sin taxes.
“Every increase of cost is a prohibition, to those whose means to not come up to the augmented price"Two crippling 12.5% excise duty rises would make legal tobacco unaffordable for large sections of any population, so it is hardly surprising that the gangs producing chop chop are doing brisk business. It's like the Aussie government is completely oblivious to the effects of Prohibition in 1920s USA.
Of course, their dozy politicians will probably point out that tobacco is still legal, just a little bit more expensive. But, as Mill accurately describes, if you price the less well off out of the legal market where else have they to go but the black one?
Mill also had this to say about the legitimacy of massive tax hikes on such products.
"To tax stimulants for the sole purpose of making them more difficult to be obtained is a measure differing only in degree from their entire prohibition, and would be justifiable only if that were justifiable.”Now, Australia obviously doesn't believe it justifiable that tobacco be banned outright or they would have the balls to have done so by now. So instead they are witnessing the bizarre situation whereby a legal industry has been railroaded into competing with the criminals that the government have empowered by their hysterical fascist policies. Incredible stuff!
There's more though, because - despite this being an entirely predictable turn of events - anti-smoking lunatics are still trying to pretend that their unsustainable policy wet dreams are not insane in practice.
I've reported before on the stunning stupidity of these people in the UK, and how they consider the laws of economics not to apply to tobacco, but Australia has its own mad denialists too.
Australian Council on Smoking and Health president Mike Daube said it was a desperate and bizarre suggestion.
"It's also a cynical ploy to get around curbs on cigarette promotion and to appeal to the most vulnerable sectors in the community," he said.This Mike Daube, of course, is the same geriatric extremist anti-smoker who forced a production of Carmen to close because the 1875 opera is set in a cigarette factory ... and then lied about it; who believes passive smoke is more dangerous than exhaust fumes; who denies the benefits of e-cigs due to his anti-industry obsession; and who is so cowardly as to attack a part-time Cornwall waitress for daring to engage in debate.
He's now apparently worried about "the most vulnerable sectors in the community" - exactly the sectors in Australian community who his policies have forced into buying chop chop from organised criminals who don't care about age restrictions, and are not regulated by government. Blithely ignoring the effects of prohibition by taxation he encourages, and the perils of smokers buying their supplies from an unregulated market, instead he is attacking the legal one for daring to try to reel these people back in. There is a special place in hell reserved for rancid psychopaths like that.
In the meantime, we are actually at that point now where legal businesses are jockeying for position with organised crime for market share. Everyone in Australia who has allowed such a situation to develop should feel deeply ashamed, but then shame takes a back seat while they still have their snouts in the tobacco control trough, eh?