Stern warning sent to travellers smuggling cigarettes
Young travellers making money from smuggling cartons of foreign cigarettes face stiff penalties and could be hurting their own health and that of others with tobacco laced with poison, formaldehyde and even rat faeces.
Australian Border Force is cracking down on the illegal tobacco trade, with seizures spiking in the past year.
The Sunday Herald Sun has been told young travellers, including university students, are smuggling cartons of cheap cigarettes through Victorian airports in their luggage then selling them at a profit.
More than 630 tonnes of tobacco - owing customs duties of $668 million - was seized in Australia last financial year.
This was an increase from 433 tonnes, with a tax value of $383 million, the year before.
ABF has seized almost 310 tonnes, worth $374 million in tax to the country, already this financial year - much of it in cigarette form - and made a series of busts in Melbourne in January.
ABF's Matt Duckworth said he would caution young people who might be tempted to smuggle tobacco to be aware of the risk they're running.
"There's a good chance you will get caught and … face substantial penalties," he said.
"Smuggling tobacco, whether you are an individual uni student bringing in a carton or whether you are an organised crime syndicate bringing in a container load, if you bring in tobacco above your duty-free limit and you don't declare it, you're smuggling tobacco."
Mr Duckworth said intelligence had revealed young travellers and uni students were among those smuggling cigarettes.
Penalties included warnings, fines and even jail, with offenders also having to pay back the tax they owed.
Anyone with information should contact Border Watch.