Illegal tobacco trade ‘declining’

From: Irish Examiner

New figures from the tobacco industry show the illegal tobacco trade in Ireland is on the decline.

A study published today by tobacco manufacturers JTI Ireland Ltd shows that last year approximately 24% of all tobacco consumed in Ireland evaded Irish excise duty.

The figure represents a 27% decrease from the number of illegal cigarettes consumed in 2009.

The decline is being attributed to the Government’s decision not to increase excise duty on tobacco in two consecutive budgets.

Meanwhile separate data published by the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee (ITMAC) revealed that the north-east of the country topped the figures of illegal cigarette seizures in 2010.

Some 63.9 million illegal cigarettes were seized in the Louth area from January to December last year, which was over a third of the total seizures of 189 million.

The next highest area was Dublin with 52.5 million illegal cigarettes being seized, followed by Cork, which saw seizures of 30 million with a value of €9.9 million.

However ITMAC said that despite the north-east being the most active area for the illegal tobacco trade in 2010, there were only three prosecutions for cigarette smuggling in Louth last year.

In the past two years the Irish economy has lost over €1bn to the illegal tobacco trade,” a spokesperson for ITMAC said.

“The money is now fuelling criminal gangs across the country who are making €3m per week from illegal cigarettes.

“The customs and Gardai are doing an excellent job with the resources they have but the government must now follow through and drive an integrated interdepartmental strategy to tackle what is a growing problem across the country and that is stealing money out of the Irish exchequer every day.”


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