25 April 2018
Following the release of Revenue’s Annual Report 2017 and Ipsos MRBI Illegal Tobacco Products Research Survey 2017, Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) is again calling on the Government to provide more resources to combat smuggling, particularly due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit.
The published reports show a marked increase in the trade of illicit goods in Ireland. Ipsos MRBI Illegal Tobacco Products Research Survey 2017 found that approximately 520 million illegal cigarettes (26 million packs) were consumed in Ireland in 2017, representing a loss to the Exchequer of approximately €229 million. Revenue’s report also highlight the disparity between cigarette seizures and summary convictions: of the 4,493 illegal cigarette seizures in 2017, there were only 26 convictions.
Small and medium-sized retailers’ trade is being undercut by smugglers, and the Revenue report reiterates the depth of the involvement of criminal gangs in smuggling of illicit tobacco in particular. RAS have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the impact of the introduction of a 30g minimum RYO pouch size in May 2017. Following the introduction of this minimum, Ipsos MRBI Illegal Tobacco Products Research Surveys 2017 found that the number of illicit RYO pouches held by smokers surveyed has almost doubled in the last year – jumping to 15% in 2017 from 9% in 2016.
RAS spokesperson, Benny Gilsenan, commented: “Revenue’s statistics show once again that Ireland still has a huge problem with the illicit trade, which harms small retailers and strengthens criminal gangs. These activities put retailers out of pocket and are happening because of a lack of awareness of the impact smuggling has on retailers, as well as a paucity of investment in combatting it,” Mr Gilsenan remarked.
Mr Gilsenan concluded: “RAS is calling for 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.”