Contrabandists Sell the Cheapest Cigarettes in Country
Illegal cigarette dealers are selling at present contraband goods door-to-door in residential estates.
For example in some areas the sellers spread leaflets with price lists for the smuggled tobacco products and a mobile telephone number to contact the sellers and make a purchase, according to a lobby group created to struggle against the black market of tobacco products.
The prices for offered cigarettes vary from €40 for 200 “John Player Blue” to €28 for 200 “Gold Classic”.
A leaflet found in Clara, Co Offaly, proposed the cheapest cigarettes in Ireland, with 200 “John Player Blue” sold at €37. The same product if bought legally in the shop would cost €95 and €99 for 200 cigarettes.
It was revealed that children of 10 years old and younger were used by criminal gangs to distribute illegal tobacco products at markets but at present, according to Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS), the flyers are posted through postboxes offering cigarettes at less than half-price.
RAS declared that the State is losing up to €500m in taxes every year due to import and sale of smuggled tobacco products, while the trade sector lost up to €700m last year.
Currently one in every three cigarettes smoked in Ireland enters the country illegally.
Still, retailer’s estimates do not correspond with figures from the Revenue Commissioners, who declare that contraband tobacco products cost the state €200m last year and that they constituted 14% of all cigarettes smoked in the country.
“It wasn’t done enough to struggle against it. It will continue until the Department of Justice and the Department of Finance get involved in this situation,” stated RAS spokesperson, Dublin-based shop-owner Benny Gilsenan.
The tobacco products turnover in Mr.Gilsenan’s shop, off the North Circular Road in Dublin, constituted less than 27.8% since 2008.
“If you are a smoker and someone on the street proposes you 20 John Player Blue or Rothmans for €4, are you really going to buy cigarettes from my shop at €8.55?”
“The widespread criminal gangs are involved in it but it got to people spreading flyers through doors,” RAS campaign manager Paddy Donohoe stated.
RAS declared that tobacco products are hand-rolled in China, namely for the Irish market, and the cigarette packages do not have the Irish government health warning.
“The Revenue had created an internal group at a high level that is led at commissioner level in order to analyze the risks related to tobacco excise,” finance Minister Brian Lenihan declared at the conference.
Initiatives set up by the internal group include profiling of passengers and cargoes into the country in order to detect contrabandists; introduction of a “tobacco hotline”; the purchase of scanning and other detection technologies.
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