Tuesday 22 August 2017

Alcohol and tobacco smuggling is now 'costing retail workers their jobs'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE scale of alcohol and tobacco smuggling has cost Ireland €2.4bn over the past seven years and is now costing retail jobs.

The warning came as a special campaign was launched by Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) in a bid to underline to holidaymakers and travellers the true cost of the black market trade.

A public awareness campaign was launched at Dublin and Cork Airports as RAS pointed out that Revenue Commissioner studies have shown one-in-ten roll-your-own cigarettes are now made from smuggled tobacco.

The same survey also revealed that an estimated 412 million cigarettes in Ireland were smuggled in 2016.

Such is the scale of smuggling that retail jobs are now being lost nationwide. Dublin and Cork Airports have been identified as key entry points for holidaymakers returning with substantial tobacco purchases from overseas.

RAS official Kevin Herlihy said their special poster campaign was aimed at raising public awareness of the true cost of smuggling.

“Today is important for retailers across the country. Our campaign is designed to deter people who may be tempted to resell tobacco in Ireland without recognising the damage that this causes to shops nationwide,” he said.

Mr Herlihy pointed out that the biggest cost is felt by small-scale retailers who simply cannot sustain the loss of such revenue.

The primary aim of the campaign is to remind passengers and travellers that purchasing tobacco products abroad and then reselling them in Ireland at a profit is a criminal offence.

Dublin newsagent and RAS official, Benny Gilsenan, warned that retailers are now paying a hefty price over the scale of smuggling.

Mr Gilsenan, who runs a newsagency in Drumcondra, said the scale of the black market trade is alarming.

"Five years ago, tobacco sales were about 44pc of my turnover," he said.

"But today that is down to about 33pc and it is entirely the result of smuggling."

The average price of a packet of 20 cigarettes in Ireland is €11.30.

Almost 79pc of that price is accounted for by Irish excise duties and VAT.

However, smugglers offer packs at between 50pc and 30pc of a discount because no Irish tax is charged.

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