Shops lose €700m over smuggled cigarettes
TOBACCO retailers lost almost €700m in sales last year despite an increase in the number of people smoking and Customs seizures.
Retailers Against Smuggling spokesman Benny Gilsenan said last night that about a million adults were smoking here but sales were down by 20 to 30pc.
"This means that people are smoking but they are buying them through illegitimate and illegal sources," he added.
He pointed out that retailers were forecast to lose about €786m this year. This resulted in a loss of half a billion euro to the State from duty paid.
Mr Gilsenan argued that until appropriate sentences and fines were handed down, Ireland would continue to be a target.