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    Generational smoking ban can lead to black market war, warns Australian expert

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    Prime minister Rishi Sunak has been warned by experts against bringing phased generational smoking ban, citing scary examples of Australia where corner shops are being fire-bombed and put into pressure to sell illegal cigarettes after anti-smoking plan came into force. 

    According to a report in GB News, experts believe a corner shop crime wave could reach Britain and black market could explode if Sunak’s plans to prohibit tobacco for people born after 2009 comes into effect.  

    The report state that Victoria in Australia is witnessing illegal gangs battle to gain control of the illicit tobacco market. Police were forced to investigate 27 fires linked to the illegal tobacco trade over a seven-month period.  

    Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores said, “These crime groups are in the midst of a dangerous turf war as they try to gain ultimate control over the vape and illicit tobacco black market.  

    “Tobacconists are being firebombed on a weekly basis. In Victoria alone, there have now been more than 50 fire-bombings of retail stores in the last 12 months. They target any store that will not sell their black-market product.  

    “These groups make huge, tax-free money from selling black market products and the penalties they face are pretty minimal, so there is a lot to gain and very little consequence. It is quite scary how ruthless they are. The safety of entire communities is being put at risk.  

    “Legitimate convenience store owners are terrified. They’re being threatened by shady characters that they will be firebombed if they don’t agree to sell black market vapes and tobacco. They’re worried for the safety of their staff, their families, their customers and their communities.”  

    “If the Australian experience is anything to go by, I would be extremely surprised if a black-market war did not explode across the UK. Learn from the Australian Government’s mistakes. Prohibition has never worked and is pushing Australians right into the arms of the black market.  

    Foukkare added that post smoking bans, Aussies aren’t quitting tobacco but they’re just buying the illegal, tax-free black-market products that are widely available here. The black market is booming and crime groups are the only ones who are benefiting in Australia.  

    The report comes days after former prime minister Boris Johnson attacked Sunak’s generational smoking ban, calling it “absolutely nuts” in a lament about the state of the Conservative party in Britain.  

    Speaking at an event in Canada on Wednesday (10) night, Johnson said it was “mad” that the party of Winston Churchill was “banning cigars”.  

    “We are, on the whole, in favour of freedom and it is that single Anglo-Saxon idea of freedom that I think unites conservatives, or should unite conservatives.  

    “And when I look at some of the things that we are doing now, or that are being done in the name of conservatism, I think they are absolutely nuts.”  

    Johnson singled out the recent move of increasing the minimum age for buying tobacco every year in an effort to phase out smoking. The proposed generational ban formed a major part of Sunak’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference last year.  

    “When the party of Winston Churchill wants to ban cigars, donnez-moi un break as they say in Quebec, it’s just mad,” Johnson said.  

    Read more about the industry reaction on the proposed plan here.

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