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Irish Cancer Society accuses tobacco companies of enabling illegal trade

The accusations come after a report from the Revenue Commissioners into illegal tobacco flooding Ireland.

THE IRISH CANCER Society (ICS) has accused ‘Big Tobacco’ companies of deliberately flooding newer markets with cigarettes – which then end up as contraband in Ireland.

Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy and communications with the ICS, said:

“The level of contraband cigarettes coming into Ireland strongly suggests that Big Tobacco is deliberately flooding low-tax economies with their own brands which then mysteriously find their way into economies such as the UK and Ireland where the price of cigarettes is kept much higher in order to discourage smoking.”

In Ukraine in 2008, the four biggest manufacturers in the country produced and imported a surplus of 30 billion cigarettes for its native market. It is thought that the additional products found their way into the black market of Western Europe.

This statement comes after a report from the Revenue Commissioners that found that out of the 12% of cigarette packets in Ireland were illegal. Out of these 11% were classified as contraband. This would indicate they have come from legitimate manufacturers of tobacco rather than counterfeit sources.

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) produces the Silk Cut and Benson and Hedges cigarette brands, the numbers one and two tobacco products in Ireland.

A report commissioned by JTI into illegal tobacco use in 2013 found that non-Irish duty paid tobacco in Ireland accounted for 28.3% of the market. In the report, John Freda, general manager of JTI Ireland Ltd states that “Combating the illegal trade is a key business priority for JTI.”

Ireland were found to have the third highest rate of non-duty paid tobacco products in Europe, after Norway and Lithuania.

The review looking into the illegal tobacco trade in Ireland goes on to state:

We in JTI look forward to continued collaboration with law enforcement, Government, retailers and other stakeholders in 2014 to introduce measures which will seriously halt and reverse the illegal tobacco trade in this country.

In a statement issued earlier this year, a spokesperson from the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers’ Advisory Committee (ITMAC) said:

As a country that considers itself a leader in tobacco control the Government needs to do much more to deal with the black market, a market which does not care about any form of regulation, does not abide by age restrictions and deprives retailers and the state of millions of euros in lost revenue.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, CEO of Convenience Stores and Newsagests’ Association Vincent Jennings, said:

“It’s not good enough to point the finger at Big Tobacco without acknowledging that their products need to be eradicated in a structured fashion on a worldwide basis and that  Ireland on its own cannot do this without enriching forces that have zero loyalty or responsibility to our State and civic society.”

Read: Not ‘foil containers’ but in fact 1.1 million illegal cigarettes

Also: Tobacco-detection dog sniffs out 52,400 illegal cigarettes

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