THE Australian Border Force has put out an alert, reiterating that from 1 July, most tobacco products will be declared “prohibited imports”.

Such products includes cigarettes, molasses tobacco and loose leaf tobacco.

This mean that a permit is required from the Department of Home Affairs for any tobacco product to be brought into the country.

From 1 July, tobacco importers must pay all duty and tax liabilities when it arrives at the border.

This is a change from the current system, where importers can import tobacco and store it in licensed warehouses before paying tax.

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For tobacco products held in licensed warehouses at the start of the measure on 1 July 2019, transitional arrangements are to apply.

Eligible affected entities are to be able to pay the liability on the warehoused stock within 12 months.

Current weekly settlement arrangements will no longer apply to imported tobacco.

“Although there is currently no licensed commercial tobacco production in Australia, the taxing point for any future domestic manufacture of tobacco will also be changed to be consistent with the new taxing point for tobacco imports,” the ABF statement read.

More information is available from the Australian Taxation Office.

The government says it has adopted this policy in order to ensure public health standards.

“Australian Border Force activities have detected poisons such as formaldehyde, and found rat faeces inside illicit tobacco—posing a health and biosecurity risk to Australia,” the ABF stated.

“Transnational organised criminals are actively involved in the illicit tobacco market.

“By smuggling tobacco into Australia and evading taxes, organised crime is able to channel its illicit profits into other criminal activities. Intelligence indicates these activities include illicit drugs, weapons, violence and intimidation—and in some cases may link to terrorism.”

In 2018 the Australian government formed the multi-agency Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, comprising members from Commonwealth law enforcement and border security agencies, to combat illicit tobacco smuggling.

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