Dublin Fingal Senator Darragh O’Brien has said illegal cigarette smuggling represents a major drain on the revenues of the state and is used to finance criminal activity while having a major impact on retailers across north Dublin.
Speaking following a briefing with Retailers Against Smuggling in Swords, Senator O’Brien commented: “The Government must start taking this problem seriously as it rolls back the progress we have made in tackling tobacco usage. Smugglers sold 1.6 billion cigarettes in Ireland in 2010,” say The Retailers against smuggling alliance, who say shop owners have lost €896 million in turnover to the illicit market and a further €400 million in cross purchases in 2010.
“This loss of revenue affects struggling retailers in Fingal and across the city who need tobacco sales for repeat business. It also directly impacts upon already strained government coffers as tax revenue from tobacco sales is hit. Illegal tobacco undermines the efforts of the government to tackle tobacco usage through pricing and information. The cheap products rarely contain valid health information as to the devastating effects of tobacco use.
On-going serious dissident Republican activity is being fuelled by illicit funding through a number of revenues such as illegal tobacco sales and illegal green diesel sales.
“It is crucial that the government recognises the scale of the problem and the profound implications in terms of other criminal activity that tobacco sales are used to finance. The health consequences cannot be neglected as the increased use of illegal tobacco sales rolls back progress on public awareness of the dangers of tobacco usage and I am urging the Minister for Health James Reilly and his government colleagues to give greater priority to tackling this problem.
“As always ordinary law abiding retailers should not suffer from the consequences of government neglect of this issue. The international nature of the problem demands greater co-operation and an international taskforce to tackle the problem with a great focus from the EU as well. However, taking action will begin with a recognition on the part of the government of the scale of the problem.”