Retailers encouraged to report suspicious trade of illicit cigarettes and tobacco to Revenue
A significant spike in cigarette and tobacco seizures by Revenue in October signals the threat of smuggling activity is stronger than ever for registered and legitimate retailers. That’s according to Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) who call on business owners and the public to report suspicious trade of illicit cigarettes and tobacco in their locality.
The combined estimated retail value of cigarette and tobacco seizures announced by Revenue and An Garda Síochána so far this month is over €8.1 million.
Commenting, RAS national spokesperson Benny Gilsenan said: “In 2021 the notional loss to the Exchequer on the 22.7 million illegal cigarette packs consumed in Ireland was €264 million according to Revenue. However, retailers are bearing the greatest impact of this as consumers are forced to source cheaper product from the black market for which there is a spiralling growth in demand. Not only are retailers losing out on tobacco sales, but more importantly they are hit by the lost sales of additional products consumers might purchase had they called into store.
“This comes as the retail sector faces a challenging winter ahead to keep stores viable due to soaring energy prices and the general cost of doing business rapidly increasing. At the same time, organised crime gangs are making huge profits from the growth in demand for cheaper tobacco products. We are seeing first-hand how large consignments of illicit cigarettes and tobacco are trickling their way down into communities across Ireland to small time criminals who are often selling to minors.
Mr Gilsenan added: “We encourage business owners and the public to play a role in tackling this criminality, protecting minors, and supporting local retail trade by reporting suspicious activity to Revenue. Information on the ground like this is incredibly valuable to Revenue for building a full picture of illicit tobacco trade in Ireland. This intel ensures Customs Officers can identify the supply lines between small time sellers and the major crime gangs bringing large consignments into the country, leading to the type of major seizures we’ve seen this month.”
Anyone with information on the sale or supply of illegal cigarettes and tobacco can contact Revenue’s confidential hotline. Freephone 1800 925 925.