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Revenue take €7.44 from each packet of cigs

For every pack of 20 cigarettes sold in this country, customers must pay a huge tax of €7.44.

Figures from the Revenue Commissioners show that just over €1bn was raked in last year by the tobacco products tax.

For a pack of 20 cigarettes costing €9.50, the tobacco products tax is €5.66, with a VAT of €1.78, bringing the total amount of tax paid to €7.44. The tax exclusive price is €2.06.

Concerns have been expressed that plain packaging on packs could lead to an increase in the illicit trade of cigarettes, as criminals would only need to master one pack design.

The Revenue's view is that the standardised packaging legislation will not damage its efforts to tackle illegal smuggling.

A spokeswoman told the Herald: "We rely on our tax stamp to identify tax paid tobacco products and the standardised packaging legislation will accommodate the stamp.

"We expect that the new packaging rules will ensure effective security features to make counterfeiting very difficult. The tax stamp will certainly contain all the features possible to minimise the risk of counterfeiting."

The spokeswoman said the Revenue's response to smugglers includes regular street-level exercises to tackle illicit cigarette sales.

Cigarettes which cost €9.50 a pack in shops can be bought for around €3 on the black market.