FIVE-and-a-half billion cigarettes are smoked in Ireland

Smoking Woman

The cigarette consumption in Ireland declined by 700m in a year because of a reduction in smoking habits, especially among younger people.

According to the Freedom of Information Act, Ireland loses €6.69 for each cigarette packet of 20 bought there because of a market for illegal brands.

At the time when people were interviewed about their habit, one in seven people smoked illegal cigarettes and it is 25 per cent of smokers from Poland, Central, or Eastern Europe.

The Irish treasury has €249m in lost taxes because of black market business.

These figures were provided by Ipsos MRBI on the instructions of the Revenue Commissioners that conducted the study to find out the size of the problem its customs officers are facing.

According to the study, the market is still strong and relatively steady.

The size of the illegal imports declined slightly in recent years. The cost to Ireland of this market was estimated at €285m in 2009 and €249m in 2010. It was 14 per cent of tobacco sales in 2010.

The data show that the total trade has been improved because smokers from other countries who live in Ireland are interested in buying cigarettes from other channels.

have said the size of the black market is putting at threat legitimate shops and sellers and it has called for minimum fines to stop criminals from targeting Ireland.

Retailers Against Smuggling spokesman Benny Gilsenan said even a slight fine would stop criminal gangs from targeting Ireland. They hope that the Government will examine the introduction of a minimum fine to deter criminals.

Customs officers have increasingly used new surveillance powers to control the importation of large shipments.

It was found out that that at least 35m illegal cigarettes have been discovered in the past three years by officers using tracking devices. Just 10% of cigarette packets without a tax stamp identified in the Revenue study were bought from a store.

Not only illegal trade in brands, but also the legal cut price options from abroad are as well sapping potential revenues from cigarette tax. These are boxes are bought abroad for cheaper prices.

In accordance with the Revenue’s research, €186m was lost because smokers bought cheaper cigarettes abroad.

As of Irish smokers, 91 per cent of the cigarettes had duty paid in Ireland, 3 per cent were originated in Spain and 3 per cent in sourced Poland.

The study revealed that 35 per cent of the packets examined had an Irish tax stamp and 33 per cent had a Polish one. A further 9 per cent were from Lithuania and smaller portions came from Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

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