MORE than one-fifth of cigarettes in Ennis are illegal, according to latest statistics. Newly released figures show the average level of non-Irish duty paid cigarettes in Ennis in 2012 was 22.2%. The research, which was carried out by MS Intelligence through the collection of empty packs throughout the area, showed that the level in Ennis is below the national average of 28.2%.
The highest level of NIDP across the 22 towns and cities that were surveyed was Waterford with 33.3%, Navan at 31.7%, which was closely followed by Limerick in third with 31.4%.
A spokesperson for the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee said, “There is no great surprise in these figures. We felt that given the large increase that was put on legitimate cigarettes in December 2011, there would be an upsurge in the illegal market and that is exactly what has happened. The shocking reality is that one-third of tobacco consumed in Ireland in 2012 completely avoided excise and VAT.
“New EU rules on tobacco, which proposes to ban 46% of legitimate tobacco products, will push this figure even higher, with 84% of consumers saying they will purchase tobacco products from alternative sources if they become unavailable through legitimate Irish retailers. This will increase black market sales and decrease legitimate Irish business, simple as that.
“Ireland continues to be a haven for international crime syndicates, who can operate here within the illegal tobacco market on the premise it is low risk, with paltry fines, and high reward, with gangs making more than €3 million a week in Ireland. Since this has become a major problem, the Government has done nothing to try and reverse this NIDP figure, which would see hundreds of millions flow back into the Irish economy and the retail sector,” the spokesperson said.