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  • Northside West

Local retailer ‘staggered’ by smuggling surge

Monday, 27th May, 2019 1:00pm
Local retailer ‘staggered’ by smuggling surge

The number of illicit packs has jumped from 15 percent in 2017, to 21 percent in 2018.

Local retailer ‘staggered’ by smuggling surge

The number of illicit packs has jumped from 15 percent in 2017, to 21 percent in 2018.

A NORTHSIDE retailer has described the amount of cigarettes and tobacco being smuggled into Ireland as ‘staggering’.

Spokesperson for Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS), Benny Gilsenan who owns a shop in central Dublin, was speaking after the recent publication of Revenue’s Annual Report and Tobacco Products Survey 2018.

The figures reveal a dramatic rise in the levels of illicit and non-Irish duty paid roll-your-own tobacco products in the last year, along with no decrease in levels of illicit/non-Irish duty paid cigarettes.

Retailers Against Smuggling commended Revenue on its 5,339 seizures of illicit tobacco products worth €42.3 million. 

However, RAS believe that not enough resources are made available to Revenue and An Garda Siochána to tackle the severity of the situation. 

Of the 5,339 seizures only 16 charges were made for smuggling and 58 for selling illicit products.

“Revenue work hard, but it’s becoming clear that criminals are working harder to get these products into our country,” said Gilsenan.

“Every year RAS express our concern over the growing levels of illicit products, and every year it seems to fall on deaf ears - 67 million illicit cigarettes were seized last year, but 453 million went on to be sold illegally. 

“The numbers are staggering.”

RAS are especially concerned about levels of illicit and non-Irish duty paid roll-your-own tobacco products now on the Irish market.

The number of illicit packs has jumped from 15 percent in 2017, to 21 percent in 2018.

Last year RAS voiced major concerns about the impact of the introduction of a 30g minimum roll-your-own pouch size in May 2017.

The organisation believes this makes illegal tobacco more attractive to cash-strapped smokers.

RAS also raised concerns over raising excise duty on legal pouches.

“RAS is calling for immediate action and proper enforcement of the current legislation to ensure those who sell illicit products are met with the full force of the law,” Gilsenan said.

“Retailers nationwide have paid all the relevant duties and taxes and are missing out on revenue and footfall as a result. 

“Illicit tobacco funds criminal groups and only serves to damage legitimate and responsible retailers.

“We are asking Minister Donohoe not to raise excise on tobacco products, in Budget 2020 until this situation is under control.”

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