Home > Strategy on combating the illicit tobacco trade.

Ireland. Revenue Commissioners. (2011) Strategy on combating the illicit tobacco trade. Dublin: Revenue Commissioners.

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One of Revenue's main strategies for 2011-2013 is to "target and confront those who do not comply" with their obligations under tax and duty regulations. Underpinning this strategy, Revenue has prioritised specific business programmes focusing on stemming tobacco [1] smuggling.

The illegal trade in tobacco products is one of the most serious threats to the Irish Exchequer. It also militates against the Government's anti-smoking policies. A key objective of Revenue is to deter people from engaging in the smuggling of tobacco products and reduce the availability of contraband on the Irish market. This will deter criminal activity, protect legitimate business and employment, increase tax and duties for the Irish Exchequer and reduce the health threat from illicit cigarettes.

The illicit trade in cigarettes is an international problem and, as such, countries cannot tackle the challenges posed in isolation to the global context. While the measurement of the scale of the illicit trade is difficult in any country, it is tentatively estimated that illicit cigarettes accounted for approximately 14% of all cigarettes consumed in the State in 2009 based on an independent survey carried out for Revenue and the Office of Tobacco Control. This represents a potential loss of €200 million in excise duty for the Irish Exchequer.

Revenue employs a number of programmes, which all play a part in tackling the illicit tobacco trade. These programmes focus on border and inland operations and internal distribution chains, and include anti-smuggling initiatives, intelligence gathering and analysis, investigation and prosecution. Revenue's objectives include improved coverage of risks, increased targeting of tobacco smuggling and prosecution of those involved in any aspect of the illicit tobacco trade. These programmes are designed to complement each other, and target the supply and demand sides of the market for contraband tobacco in Ireland.

The strategy of the Revenue Commissioners for tackling this illicit trade is multi-faceted and is set out below under various strategic headings.

[1] Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, fine-cut tobacco for the rolling of cigarettes and other smoking tobacco as defined by Section 71 of Finance Act 2005

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