27 April 2017
The Revenue 2016 Annual report shows more resources are needed to tackle tobacco and alcohol smuggling:
• In 2016, 10% of the cigarettes in Ireland were illegal, while 8% were non-Irish duty paid (NIDP)
• This means that 742 million cigarettes in 2016 were not purchased from registered and legitimate retailers in Ireland.
• Additionally, 9% of Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco was illegal, with 3% NIDP.
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) welcome the publication of Revenue’s Annual Report 2016 and Ipsos MRBI Illegal Tobacco Products Retailers Against Smuggling Research Surveys 2016, in particular the inclusion of Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco figures ahead of the introduction of a 30g minimum pack size on 20 May this year. RAS now call for the Government to provide more resources to combat smuggling, particularly due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit.
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 on 20 May. This will mean the vast majority of RYO consumers face large ‘out of pocket’ spending increases, some as high as 300%.
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. Only yesterday, RTE ‘Liveline’ broadcast a piece on adolescents advertising cheap, illegal cigarettes in Meath. 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.
The figures also highlight the shocking disparity between alcohol seizures and summary convictions: there were 1,875 seizures of illicit alcohol in 2016, but only four summary convictions. RAS call for proper enforcement of the current legislation to ensure those who sell illegal alcohol 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.
“At a time when retailers are facing an increasingly uncertain future with the looming spectre of Brexit, the Government have a responsibility to protect retailers and Ireland’s communities from this prevalent criminal activity.” Gilsenan continued.
“RAS support Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach’s Sale of Illicit Goods Bill, tabled in March. But it is clear to retailers that the Government needs to step up and protect small retailers before Ireland’s recovery is further threatened.”