Just as tobacco prices are about to soar, a 60-year-old Motueka man has been fined $6000 in the Auckland District Court for its unlawful manufacture.
Lawrence Reginald Jury was yesterday found guilty to being a party to the unlawful manufacturing of tobacco in breach of the Customs and Excise Act 1996.
In May 2010, a search warrant was executed at Jury’s address in Motueka.
Customs officers found 4790kg of tobacco leaf which, at the time, represented just under $2 million in revenue if the tobacco leaf had been manufactured.
Customs manager Shane Panettiere says the trial outcome is a real achievement for Customs and the officers who put their time and effort into the case.
“Our officers have worked tirelessly in putting this case together and their determination and hard work have paid off.
“Mr Jury was providing flue-cured leaf to an individual who he knew was unlawfully manufacturing tobacco. This is a criminal offence.
"There are rules around manufacturing tobacco and Mr Jury grew, harvested, flue-cured and sold it knowing that those rules would not be followed,” Mr Panettiere said.
Wellsford man Ross Ferguson (64) was also convicted and fined $1500 for unlawfully manufacturing tobacco with Jury.
Ferguson drove from Wellsford to Motueka to buy the tobacco from Jury, which he loaded onto his trailer before returning north with it.
In 2007, Jury was convicted for the unlawful manufacture of tobacco as a result of a previous Customs investigation.
It was announced in last month's Budget that the tobacco excise will increase by 10% a year during the next four years.
By 2016, a pack of 20 cigarettes will cost more than $20, an increase of about $5, while a packet of loose tobacco will climb to around $40.
The Budget has also allocated $20 million for a new fund, Pathway to Smoke-Free 2025.
There are requirements for manufacturing tobacco in New Zealand.
The premises must be licensed as a Customs controlled area, the tobacco produced is liable for excise duty and manufacturers must assist Customs on matters of audit and review.
Section 68A of the Customs and Excise Act allows individuals over 18 years of age to manufacture up to 15kg of tobacco annually exclusively for their own use providing they grow the tobacco at their place of residence.