Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 215 - Illicit trade in tobacco [22804/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 215 - Illicit trade in tobacco [22804/13]. (14 May 2013)

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215. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the steps the Revenue Commissioners are taking to monitor fairs, markets and so on in order to crackdown on the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco products being sold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22804/13] 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that combating the illegal tobacco trade is, and will continue to be, a high priority for them. Their “Strategy on Combating the Illicit Tobacco Trade (2011-2013)” includes a wide range of measures designed to identify and target those engaged in the supply or sale of illicit tobacco products, with a view to seizing the illicit products and prosecuting those responsible. This multi-faceted strategy includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, ongoing review of operational policies, the development of analytics and detection technologies and ensuring optimum deployment of resources at both point of importation and within the country.


A key element of Revenue’s work against the illicit trade within the country is targeted action in relation to markets, fairs and other locations where illicit products are known to be sold. This includes high visibility patrols aimed at disrupting the sale or supply of illicit tobacco products at those locations. In addition, covert surveillance and test purchasing are carried out to gather intelligence, with a view to identifying and prosecuting the suppliers and sellers of illicit products in the areas concerned.


This ongoing work is complemented each year by a number of countrywide “blitz” operations, focused on particular aspects of the illicit trade. Four operations of this kind were carried out during 2012, resulting in the seizure of 1.9 million cigarettes and over 1 tonne of tobacco, 17 vehicles were also seized in the course of those operations, and 2 arrests were made.


There is extensive co-operation with An Garda Síochána in combating the illicit trade, and the relevant agencies in the State also work closely with their counterparts in Northern Ireland, through a cross-border group on tobacco enforcement, to target the organised crime groups that are responsible for a large proportion of the illegal tobacco market.


Considerable success is being achieved against the selling of illicit cigarettes and other tobacco products. During 2012, there were 75 convictions, resulting in the imposition of 21 custodial sentences, some of which were suspended, and fines amounting to €153,050. In addition, there were 57 convictions for smuggling of illicit products, which led to the imposition of 26 custodial sentences, some suspended, and fines totalling €93,550. 


The Revenue Commissioners are committed to maintaining their extensive programme of action against all stages of the supply chain for illicit tobacco products, and action against the selling of such products, wherever it occurs, will be a particular focus of attention in this work.


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