Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 78 - Illicit trade in tobacco [54665/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 78 - Illicit trade in tobacco [54665/13]. (18 Dec 2013)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20A...

78. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Finance the number of illicit cigarettes that have been seized by the Revenue Commissioners and Garda in 2013; if this represents either an increase or decrease of the amount of illicit cigarettes seized by the Customs Service since 2012; the inroads the Department has made in combatting this issue; the level of funding allocated to stamping out the smuggling of illicit cigarettes into the State; his views on whether the Department and all other associated Departments and agencies involved in the tracking down and seizing of these goods are becoming more successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54665/13] 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of cigarettes seized to 30 November this year is 40.05 million, and that the comparable figure in respect of 2012 is 93.48 million. It needs to be borne in mind in viewing these data that the level of seizures can vary significantly between years, because of factors such as the occurrence of a very large seizure in a given time period. The incidence of illicit cigarettes in Ireland is evaluated through annual surveys of smokers undertaken for the Revenue Commissioners and the National Tobacco Control Office of the Health Services Executive. The results for 2012 found that 13% of smokers had an illicit pack of cigarettes, and the comparable figure for 2011 was 15%. This would suggest that the extent of the problem is being contained, as a result of the extensive action being taken against the smuggling and sale of illicit products. A further survey was carried out recently, and it is expected that the results will be available in the first quarter of next year.


The work of the Revenue Commissioners against the illicit trade includes a range of measure designed to identify and target those who are engaged in it, with a view to seizing the illicit products and prosecuting those responsible. Key elements of Revenue’s strategy include ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, development and sharing of intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, the use of analytics and detection technologies, and ensuring optimum deployment of resources at points of importation and within the country.

Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of risk analysis, profiling and intelligence, as well as the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages. Revenue’s enforcement officers also target the illicit trade at the post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private commercial premises. There is extensive cooperation 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.
Revenue has approximately 2,000 staff engaged on activities that are dedicated to target and confront non-compliance. These staff are deployed across a number of compliance and enforcement programmes that reflect the strategic and business priorities set out in Revenue’s Statement of Strategy and Annual Corporate Plan. These programmes include anti-smuggling controls, audit, assurance checks, debt management, investigations, prosecutions and anti-avoidance interventions. Resources are continuously redeployed across the programmes in response to the Commissioners’ assessment of risk. It is not possible, therefore, to disaggregate the resources deployed exclusively on tackling the smuggling and sale of illicit cigarettes.
The Revenue Commissioners assure me that combating the illegal tobacco will continue to be a high priority for them, that they are committed to maintaining their extensive programme of action against all stages of the supply chain for illicit tobacco products, and that they will continue to make very effort to ensure that those involved in the illicit trade are brought to account before the Courts for their criminal activities.
Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
18 December 2013

Repository Staff Only: item control page