14 January 2014
By David O’Sullivan
The latest figures compiled by the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee (ITMAC) have shown that 25 million illegal cigarettes were seized in Cork between April and September last year. This was the third highest in the country with the North Eastern region of Louth / Armagh seeing seizures amounting to over 45 million and Dublin seizures coming to over 30 million.
The total worth of the 25 million illegal cigarettes was €8.3 million and highlighted what is growing issue in the Cork area. In the same period there were 8 prosecutions made in Cork for illegal cigarette activity. 6 people were prosecuted for the illegal sale of cigarettes, while 2 people were prosecuted for the smuggling of illegal cigarettes.
A spokesperson for ITMAC said; “There has been a lot of activity in this are over the past year including seizures and prosecutions with the Customs being extremely active in trying to stop the influx of illegal cigarettes into the area. While Customs and Gardai are working to put a stop to the illegal cigarette trade in the area the problem will not go away until serious deterrents are placed on criminals for selling and smuggling illegal tobacco.”
“The latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners show that there was actually a decrease in the fines that were handed out to those caught selling illegal cigarettes in 2010. In the second quarter of the year, from April to June, the average fine for someone caught selling illegal cigarettes was €3,130, but this decreased to €2,820 in the third quarter, from July to September. These criminals are arrested in the morning and are back out on the streets selling in the afternoon. A criminal gang can make a profit of €1million on one container of illegal cigarettes so these fines mean nothing to them,” they went on to say.
“Until there is a coordinated approach from all the key stakeholders including the Justice, Finance, Health, Enterprise Trade and Employment Departments, the Gardai and Customs then the problem will continue to grow. This will lead to more criminal activity on Irish streets and more money stolen out of the Irish economy”.