Cancer Council rejects illegal tobacco stats

The NSW Cancer Council has dismissed a recent report claiming the use of illegal tobacco products is on the rise in Wollongong.

The report, prepared on behalf of British American Tobacco Australasia, Phillip Morris International and Imperial Tobacco Australia by KPMG, claimed up to 7.2per cent of all tobacco in Wollongong was illegal, and had mainly been sourced from Asian countries.

In a statement, British American Tobacco Australasia said a crack team of investigators had scoured Wollongong and other Australian cities, searching for discarded illegal cigarette packets.

‘‘Overall, the national report shows that Australia’s total consumption of illegal cigarettes and chop chop (illegally grown tobacco) has climbed to its highest ever rate,’’ BATA said.

‘‘The country’s total black market is continuing to boom.’’

The report blamed Australia’s high excise rates for the increase in illegal tobacco.

However, NSW Cancer Council tobacco control manager Scott Walsberger said the report could not be considered credible.

‘‘The tobacco industry has a long history of lies and deception when it comes to the facts about cigarettes,’’ he said.

‘‘Cancer Council analysis of KPMG’s report found methodological weaknesses in the report. 

‘‘Estimates of illicit tobacco in the report are not consistent with more reliable estimates. 

‘‘This demonstrates yet another attempt by the tobacco industry to undermine tobacco control policies.”