Black market cigarette trade increases in Ireland

In 2015, 16.5% of all cigarettes consumed here arrived through the black market.

This represents a year-on-year annual rise in the illicit trade of cigarettes here.

According to a report by KPMG, Ireland now has the sixth largest black trade market for cigarettes across the whole of Europe.

The report also showed that 65 different illicit ‘white brand’ cigarettes were identified in Ireland in 2015.

The four major tobacco manufacturers operating in the EU, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, and Philip Morris International, commissioned the report.

An illicit ‘white brand’ cigarette is defined as being manufactured legally but have been smuggled illegally across borders to a State where they are sold without legal distribution and tax payment.

The report, entitled Project Sun, also found that the total illicit cigarette volumes account for 9.8% of all cigarettes consumed in the EU in 2015. This represented a marginal decline to 53bn cigarettes.

The decline, according to KPMG, is against a backdrop of “improved economic conditions” as well as “increased anti-illicit trade activities.

The accountancy firm found that personal disposable income increased by an average of 2% across all EU member states last year and this, they believe, contributed to a stabilisation of legal domestic cigarette sales, reversing a five-year trend.

Last year, Revenue seized 68m cigarettes here and 2,364kg of tobacco to the value of €35.5m.

The contraband was found in unusual containers such as mannequins and hot tubs. There was a seizure in Rosslare Europort last November where €357,000 of smuggled cigarettes were discovered in the casing of hot tubs, in a Lithuanian-registered truck.

Earlier this year, chair-person of Retailers Against Smuggling, Benny Gilsenan, said the cost of cigarettes here makes Ireland an attractive place to smuggle tobacco into.


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