Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) have expressed their outrage at the figures shown in Revenue’s Annual Report and Tobacco Products Survey 2018, released this morning (Wednesday)The figures reveal that there has been 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.
RAS continues to commend Revenue on the work they are doing – this year 5,339 seizures of illicit tobacco products worth €42.3 million took place. However, it is clear that there are not enough resources available to Revenue and An Garda Siochána to tackle the severity of the situation. Of the 5,339, only 16 charges were made for smuggling and 58 for selling illicit products.
RAS spokesperson Benny Gilsenan said “Revenue work hard, but it’s becoming clear that criminals are working harder to get these products into our country. 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.”
Most staggering are the levels of illicit and non-Irish duty paid roll your own tobacco products on the Irish market. The number of illicit packs has jumped from 15% in 2017, to 21% in 2018. The number of non-Irish duty paid also rose from 4% to 7%. Last year RAS repeatedly voiced major concerns about the impact of the introduction of a 30g minimum roll your own pouch size in May 2017. RAS also raised concerns over raising excise duty on these pouches.
Mr Gilsenan concluded: “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. 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.”
Revenue’s full report can be found here