3 out of 10 packets of Irish cigarettes suspected to be illegal
on 15/09/2012 00:00:00
This compares to official Revenue figures of approximately 20%, based on a survey conducted in 2009 and 2010. Revenue estimate this 20% comprised two thirds illegal smuggled product, while a third were legal cross-border purchases.
A survey carried out by MS Intelligence and commissioned by the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee, examined 5,000 packets in 22 urban areas during Apr 15 and May 5. The national average of 30% for the second quarter of this year compares to a corresponding figure of 24% in the second quarter of 2011.
The highest incidence of non-duty-paid cigarettes was in Waterford at 44.5%, followed by Newbridge, Co Kildare, at 41.5%. The incidence was 37.5% in Limerick, 33% in Dublin city centre, 28% in Cork, and 15% in Galway. The lowest incidence was in Dun Laoghaire at 11%.
"The figures are certainly worrying when you look at the incidence over the past two years," a spokesman for the tobacco committee said.
"The NIDP [non-Irish duty paid] reached one of its lowest rates in the same period last year, and this was following the Government's freeze on excise on cigarettes and the increased focus put on the area by the Revenue and gardaí.
"However, following the Government's increase in the Vat and Excise in the last budget pushing the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to over €9, there has been a surge in the amount of NIDP cigarettes on the streets."
He accused the Government of failing to treat the illegal tobacco trade seriously, despite pledges to increase jail sentences and fines in the Programme for Government.
"Ireland is a target for international crime gangs due to our paltry fines and the ease at which illegal cigarettes can be sold here," said the spokesman.
"This is costing Ireland hundreds of millions every year, it's bringing crime into the community, and it's selling a product that is circumventing the Department of Health guidelines."
Incidence of suspect cigarettes: