Revenue finds illegal cigarettes cost State €264 million a year

The latest survey commissioned by Revenue to assess the scale of illicit tobacco products found 13 per cent of all packs consumed by Irish smokers last year were classified as illegal.
Revenue finds illegal cigarettes cost State €264 million a year

Kenneth Fox

More than one in eight of all packets of cigarettes used by smokers in Ireland last year were illegal, with a sharp increase in the number of counterfeit products being sold.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the latest survey commissioned by Revenue to assess the scale of illicit tobacco products found 13 per cent of all packs consumed by Irish smokers last year were classified as illegal.

It also estimated that 7 per cent of all illegal cigarettes were counterfeit brands – the highest ever level since such surveys began in 2009.

The tax authorities have estimated the potential loss of revenue to the Exchequer from the sale of 22.7 million illegal cigarettes is around €264 million.

The potential tax receipts lost due to the trade of illegal tobacco products last year rose by 9 per cent - or €22m.

Worryingly, the research found that 7 per cent of all illegal cigarettes last year were classified as counterfeit products whereby they were manufactured without the authorisation of the rightful brand owners.

Revenue said such products were designed “to deceive consumers and to avoid paying duty.”

The vast majority of illegal cigarettes – almost 9 in every 10 packs – are classified as contraband products which have been smuggled into the Republic without duty being paid to the tax authorities.

The report also found 4 per cent of all illegal cigarettes consumed last year were “illegal whites” – cigarettes manufactured for the sole purpose of being smuggled into and sold illegally here.

In addition to illegal tobacco products, a further 8 per cent of cigarette packs were found to be legal but “non-Irish duty paid”, representing a further loss to the Exchequer.

They represent legal cross-border purchases of cigarettes.

The survey also found that 13 per cent of all roll-your-own tobacco packs used by Irish smokers last year were illegal – up from 12 per cent in 2019.

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