Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) welcomes the seizure by Gardaí and Revenue Customs officers of counterfeit cigarettes in West Dublin on July 4. The seizure has an estimated retail value of over €10 million, showing a potential loss to the Exchequer of nearly €7.5 million.
The Association asserts the need to increase enforcement measures against illegal smuggling, to adequately protect the Exchequer and retail revenues and curb youth access to tobacco products. Counterfeit cigarettes are unregulated and have been found to contain substances such as pesticides, arsenic, industrial dyes, rat droppings, tobacco beetles, and sawdust as well as higher levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide.
Last year alone, over 51 million cigarettes and 11 tonnes of tobacco were seized, with a combined retail value of approximately €48 million. In 2022, 30% of all cigarette packs held by smokers in the country were found to be classified as illegal or Non-Irish Duty Paid, representing a loss to the Exchequer of €384 million in 2022. This is a rise of 43% compared to 2021. Year after year, the significant seizures of both illegal and NIDP cigarettes demonstrate that more must be done to protect retailers and consumers.
Commenting RAS national spokesperson Benny Gilsenan said: “The cost-of-living crisis and lack of enforcement have fuelled the emergence of organised crime gangs in local communities, targeting vulnerable people as demand for cheaper illegal products grows – products that do not meet the required safety standards. For this reason, the Government must strengthen Revenue’s hand in identifying and targeting any attempts at the illegal supply or sale of illicit tobacco.”
These recent events illustrate that illicit trade is continuing to grow in Ireland. RAS commends the ongoing work by Revenue and Gardai in the fight against tobacco smuggling and illicit trade and encourages anyone with information on the sale or supply of illegal cigarettes and tobacco to contact its confidential hotline. Free phone number 1800 295 295.