Illegal cigarette convictions 'now in most counties'

Illegal cigarette problem in Ireland is growing at a rapid rate according to figures compiled by the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee.

Its report found that 23 out of the 26 counties in Ireland registered illegal cigarette activity in 2011, which is up from 15 counties in 2010.

The Revenue Commissioners Defaulter List figures for 2011 showed that 23 counties in Ireland had convictions related to either the smuggling or selling or illegal cigarettes in 2011, with only three counties; Sligo, Kildare and Roscommon, not registering any convictions.

The activity table is topped by Dublin with 50 convictions in 2011 for illegal tobacco activity, 32 for smuggling cigarettes, with 18 were convicted for the selling of illegal cigarettes.

Next highest was Cork, which registered 11 convictions, seven for smuggling and four for the illegal selling of cigarettes.

The rest of the 67 convictions are spread across the country.

The Defaulters List also showed that average fine for selling illegal cigarettes in 2011 was €2,833 while the average fine for smuggling tobacco was €1,829 with one smuggler from Dublin getting fined €50 on conviction.

The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee claimed that "recent increases to VAT and excise on cigarettes" meant that "people are being pushed towards purchasing from the black market".

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