These pages have been empty for a number of reasons recently. Puddlecote Inc has been dogged by large scale staff sickness, not helped by a further two drivers being called up for jury service in the same week! Your humble host then got smacked out of the park for 6 by a savage flu bug which could have been designed by the Devil himself, all of which was then topped off by a family tragedy over the weekend. There is still some mopping up to do after all that but things will return to normal over time.
In the meantime, there is news out today from Australia about that tobacco black market that was, apparently, just an industry lie during the campaign to install pointless plain packaging.
ILLEGAL tobacco is booming across Australia with a 30 per cent increase in black market trade in the past two years costing taxpayers more than $1.35 billion, a new report has found.
Illicit tobacco continues to fund international crime syndicates with record tax increases and plain packaging fuelling the demand for cheap counterfeit and contraband cigarettes, according to the report released today.Considering this is a quite obvious reaction to tax rises and removal of popular branding if you were to talk to any smoker, it shouldn't come as a surprise. But a facet of every tobacco control campaign ever created is to deny the bleeding obvious and pretend it's all just a creation of tobacco industry imaginations. You know, pubs won't close because of smoking bans, there is no shift to black market when you tax tobacco, and smokers will simply carry on buying their fags as normal in plain packs ... except kids who will magically no longer see them, that kind of thing.
Tobacco control sees only policies they want enacted, and require their demands to be backed up by faith in the denial of basic rules of economics and human nature. But then, anti-smokers have never really understood people anyway, and the only numbers they care about are those in their back account.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) spokesman Scott McIntyre said people were down-trading from legal brands to the black market “in droves”.
“Illegal tobacco is mainly smuggled into Australia from overseas and sold at much lower prices than legal cigarettes, avoiding tobacco excise tax obligations,” he said.
“They’re normally under $10 a pack, have no health warnings and aren't plain pack compliant.”What's not to like? Smokers have long since worked out that government hates them, so why respect the laws government lays down, eh? Smuggling is seen as a victimless crime and those providing the black market operate in an increasingly friendly environment. In Puddlecoteville, for example, the local community is well served by the milkman - he's going to enjoy an even larger customer base once daft politicians have finished their plan of making all boxes gory and beige.
As Snowdon notes today ...
If it does nothing else - and we can be fairly sure it won't reduce legal sales of cigarettes - plain packaging will bring the size of Britain's non-duty paid tobacco market into sharp focus. Any cigarettes that are not in 'standardised' packaging will, by definition, not have had UK duty paid on them. You will see them wherever you see smokers. This observable fact will come too late to prevent the ridiculous policy being introduced, but the reality of plain packaging will make it impossible to deny the reality of Britain's black market.The UK's smokers mostly couldn't give a rat's fart about being loyal to the rules of a government that despises them. In fact, there's a certain joy to be had from buying off the radar and depriving the exchequor of a few bob, I always find.
This is precisely what is happening in Australia.
“Smokers are literally walking into their corner store and asking for the cheapest pack available,” Mr McIntyre said.And if you want to see what that looks like, here's some undercover filming of it happening down under.
There's no reason to believe Australians are any different to the British, so we can fully expect an increase in the black market in Britain too once plain packs comes in, just as the campaign against the stupid idea predicted. Except with a turbo-charge added to the effect thanks to our proximity to Europe with its freedom of cross border purchases.
So once again politicians fix nothing while the black market creates more profits for gangsters and terrorists, and cheaper smokes become available with no control on sales to kids - and all the while, tobacco companies rightly queue up to sue them for theft. Nice job, idiots.