The Australian tobacco industry is a subset of the global industry. All three tobacco companies which operate in Australia—British American Tobacco Australia, Philip Morris International (Australia) and Imperial Tobacco Australia—are wholly owned subsidiaries of their overseas parent. Although the Australian tobacco market is considered to be mature1 and per capita consumption is in decline, the tobacco companies remain highly profitable entities and continue to successfully operate despite the challenging regulatory environment. In 2009, an estimated 21 928.5 million cigarettes were sold in Australia, the equivalent of 1669 packs of 25 cigarettes per minute (this does not include roll-your-own tobacco, which has increased in consumption).2
Overseas ownership of the Australian companies means that no tobacco company is currently listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and that the availability of information specific to local company operations is limited. British American Tobacco Australia offers a websitei with some Australian emphasis, but Philip Morris International (Australia) and Imperial Tobacco Australia provide little in the way of Australian data. It is probable that the tobacco companies prefer not to expose their activities to any more scrutiny than is strictly required by law. Most of the information used in the following sections discussing the Australian tobacco companies and their operating environment has been sourced from literature published by various trade and marketing associations, and cannot be independently verified. Given the immense impact of the tobacco industry on the health of Australians, this lack of accountability and disclosure is inconsistent with government priorities to reduce tobacco use and could be remedied by legislation requiring greater reporting of sales and marketing data.
Reflecting international trends, the companies operating in Australia have undergone consolidation. Only two of the three companies, Philip Morris International (Australia) and British American Tobacco Australia, own local manufacturing facilities. Brands sold by Imperial Tobacco Australia, which entered the market following the merger of WD & HO Wills and Rothmans in 1999, are marketed under licence by British American Tobacco Australia. In addition, a small number of companies import speciality products and brands. Chapter 10, Sections 10.3–10.6 provide further detail on the size and composition of the Australian tobacco industry.
A total of 23 544.5 million cigarettes were produced in Australia in 2009, with 4,021.0 million cigarettes exported (primarily to Pacific Island countries) and an additional 2,465.0 cigarettes imported.2
1. Imperial Tobacco Group. Rest of the world. Asia-Pacific. Bristol: Imperial Tobacco Group, 2011, [viewed 1 July 2011] . Available from: http://www.imperial-tobacco.com/index.asp?page=355
2. Euromonitor International. Tobacco--Australia, September. London: Euromonitor International, 2010, [viewed 30 June 2011] . Available from: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco