An Incredible 57 Million Illegal Cigarettes Have Been Seized

A huge blow for Australia's illegal tobacco trade.

The tobacco black-market in Australia has just been dealt a massive blow with millions of cigarettes seized by authorities.

A major crime syndicate was  smashed by Australian state and federal authorities, with 57 million illegally imported cigarettes stopped from hitting the black market.

A number of arrests have already been made, with police expecting more in the near future --including the people who are distributing the illegal tobacco through newsagents, universities and ‘under the counter’ deals.

So far, authorities have uncovered nine shipments ranging in size from 38,000 to more than 20 million cigarettes, with some concealed in legitimate goods being imported from South East Asia.

Cigarettes are set to cost AUD$40 by 2020. Photo: Getty

The steady growth of Australia's cigarette black market has come as a direct result of the 25 per cent increase in tobacco excise in 2010 and the continued annual increases in tobacco excise of 12.5 percent up to and including 2020, raising the cost of a pack of cigarettes to $40.

One of the most expensive in the world.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics rates of smoking are considerably higher in the most disadvantaged areas of Australia.

In 2014-15, 21.4 percent of people living in areas of most disadvantage smoked daily, compared with eight percent of people living in areas of the least disadvantage.

According to a report by KPMG  in 2015, the government was losing at least $1.35 billion in excise and GST revenue to the growing tobacco black-market.

The sizable tax on cigarettes has worked,  according to Tobacco in Australia  there has been "substantial real increases in the price of tobacco products in Australia have been followed by larger-than-usual declines in apparent and reported tobacco consumption."

It’s thought the funds made from illegal tobacco on to fund organised crime - with police saying it’s possible the millions made could even fund terrorism.