Over 30% of cigarettes smoked in Cork city are illegal

A nationwide survey has found a rise in illicit cigarettes in Cork city in
the past twelve months.****

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The survey of discarded cigarette packs on the streets and in bins in Cork
found that 30.3% were non-domestic, meaning they had no Irish duty-paid
stamp on them and so were illegal. ****

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Cork was ranked 7th of 22 cities and towns surveyed across the country. The
city was 2.4 points above the national average of 27.9%. ****

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The current figure of 30.3% for Cork is a significant increase from the
same survey twelve months ago when it was measured at 27.7%. ****

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The survey was undertaken between April and June 2013 by MS Intelligence
which specialises in brand and intellectual property protection. ****

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The highest incidence of illegal cigarettes in 22 major population centres
across the country was found in Drogheda (32.8%), Tallaght (32.8%) and
Athlone (32.4%). The lowest was Clonmel (19.6%).****

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The overall figure for Dublin was 27.4% and for Limerick was 27.2%. ****

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The national survey information was gathered through collecting a sample of
5,000 discarded packages from the streets and easy access bins across the
country. From the sample, 440 of the discarded packs were collected in Cork
city.****

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Joe Sweeney, President of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents
(NFRN) in Ireland said:****

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“The huge scale of the illegal cigarette trade in Cork has reached a level
where it is destroying local jobs due to the drop in revenue from legal
tobacco sales. Retail newsagents’ shops depend heavily on legal tobacco
sales to also drive additional purchases. Illegal tobacco sales lead to a
loss of footfall which hits other product sales.****

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“Despite some high profile recent seizures, the Revenue ia only scratching
the surface of the illegal cigarette smuggling rackets. ****

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“The government must launch a major crackdown on the illegal trade through
making market and street selling of tobacco an offence with far stiffer
penalties than are there at present. This should be the government’s
priority for protecting retailers’ incomes and jobs, not introducing plain
packaging of cigarettes. Alarmingly, the new Transcrime report by Professor
Ernesto Savona released last week states that plain packaging may increase
the demand further for illicit tobacco in Ireland.****

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Cigarettes are already well out of sight in legitimate shops, plain
packaging is just a feel-good gimmick that will drive up the illegal trade
further. This is the reason the British government abandoned plans for
plain packaging earlier this month after an extensive public consultation
process involving retailers and other concerned stakeholders. The least the
Minister for Health James Reilly can do is afford Irish retailers the same
level of engagement that was provided to English retailers.”

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