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Australia customs officers

Customs photo’s show a huge haul of undeclared cigarettes. Courtesy: Australian Border Force

Eight Chinese nationals have been denied entry to Australia after customs officers discovered more than 170,000 undeclared cigarettes.

Australian Border Force officers cancelled the visas of the men – entering the country through Melbourne Airport on May 6 – after the discovery of undeclared cigarettes amounting to more than $160,000 in evaded duty.

The current duty free allowance for tobacco is one packet of up to 25 cigarettes (or the equivalent of 25 grams of tobacco products) and one open packet of cigarettes.

The group was taken to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation pending their removal from Australia.

ABF Regional Commander Craig Palmer warned travellers that strict penalties apply for deliberately breaching Australia’s laws around importing illicit tobacco.

“Targeting illicit tobacco is an operational priority for the ABF and through the use of intelligence, X-ray capability, tobacco detector dogs and our highly skilled officers, the ABF is well placed to detect illicit tobacco at our airports,” Commander Palmer said.

“People may think bringing in undeclared tobacco is harmless, but this trade has a massive cost on the Australian economy and those caught deliberately evading duty should expect to face fines, removal from Australia or even prosecution.”

“If you are travelling to Australia with cigarettes or other tobacco products the message is simple; declare it and pay the duty required.”

Consumers and importers should also note that new tobacco import requirements come into effect from 1 July 2019, making it illegal for anyone to import tobacco without a permit.