28pc of cigarettes sold are illegal in smugglers' 'haven'
MORE than a quarter of cigarettes smoked in Ireland are sold illegally, a study shows.
The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers' Group claims that because of increased taxation, the proportion of non-duty paid tobacco in the country is continuing to rise.
"We have tobacco criminals who view Ireland as a haven," said a spokesperson.
According to the tobacco lobby group, the level of non-Irish duty paid (NIDP) cigarettes rose to 27.9pc in the second quarter of 2013.
The research, carried out by collecting empty packs from 22 towns and cities across the country, indicates an increase of nearly 4pc since 2011.
The highest incidence of NIDP cigarettes in Ireland was measured in Drogheda, Co Louth, which has an average level of 32.8pc – or almost one-in-three cigarettes being purchased from the black market, thus avoiding tax and excise.
Clonmel has the lowest incidence of NIPD cigarettes in Ireland, with a 19.6pc average.
"These figures confirm what we had expected.
"The attractiveness of the illegal tobacco market remains extremely high and will continue to attract members of the public who can purchase illegal tobacco at half the price of the legitimate product," said the tobacco lobby group spokesperson.