It could be a year before branded cigs disappear
It could be September before branded cigarettes disappear entirely from shop shelves after tobacco was stockpiled in order to beat new plain-packaging laws.
The news comes as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe prepares to increase the excise duty on a packet of cigarettes by 50 cents, bring the price of 20 for many standard brands to €12.
But the Irish Independent has learned that the Department of Finance has struggled to predict the income from taxes on tobacco in recent months due to the introduction of plain packaging.
New rules mean that, from last month, manufacturers can only import non-branded cigarette packets into Ireland.
However, it has emerged that companies brought in significant quantities of tobacco prior to September which can be legally sold for up to a year.
The move has complicated the Department of Finance’s efforts to predict income from excise duties.
“By moving stock literally from one side of the warehouse to the other across the customs line, and paying the excise on it, it meant they had stock that was still branded and they can sell,” said a senior finance official, who noted that excise has fluctuated greatly in recent years as tobacco firms had anticipated plain packaging coming into force earlier.
By the end of September 2015 Revenue had collected €3.7bn in excise duty.
Last year this rose by around €615m but it is down from that high by €173m for 2017. The hike in prices will kick in at midnight tonight.