Cost-of-living crisis will push consumers to the black market, Retailers Against Smuggling warns
18 January 2023
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) has warned that the cost-of-living crisis is likely to further drive demand for black market products.
Benny Gilsenan, RAS national spokesperson said: “RAS members are witnessing first-hand how the skyrocketing cost-of-living is forcing Irish consumers to make radical decisions on how and where they spend hard-earned income. For many, the black market has for the first time become the only realistic option for purchasing high excise items such as alcohol, solid fuel, and tobacco products.”
RAS was established to represent retailers in the fight against the black market in Ireland. In its end of year update for 2022, RAS welcomed the numerous large-scale seizures of illicit tobacco and cigarettes it witnessed in 2022, the largest being the seizure of more than 10 million cigarettes at Rosslare Europort, with an estimated retail vale of €7.9 million.
As of 2022, Ireland is the most expensive EU country to purchase cigarettes, with a pack of 20 cigarettes retailing at €13.43 euros, followed by France at €10.19. This, in combination with the return of Duty Free between Ireland and the UK has had a significant impact on Irish retail tobacco sales as some consumers are taking advantage of the option to purchase cheaper product outside the State.
Further, RAS encouraged Irish retailers to report illicit trade in their local areas. On the ground information is incredibly valuable to Revenue in tackling illicit trade, helping identify supply lines between small time sellers and the major crime gangs as well as smuggling routes, leading to the type of major seizures we’ve seen this year.
As 21% of all cigarette packs and 18% of all roll-your-own tobacco packs held by smokers are either classified as illegal or non-Irish duty paid, it asks that anyone with information about the sale or supply of illegal cigarettes or tobacco contact Revenue’s confidential freephone hotline: 1800 295 295.