Gotcha – Great news for public health

The sale of untaxed cigarettes smuggled into the country is a serious problem in tobacco control. There is a direct relationship between price and consumption of cigarettes. In 2009, there were 163 convictions for cigarette smuggling, though only 14 resulted in a prison sentence. The average fine was just over €500.

The 2010 Finance Bill envisaged a tenfold increase in the maximum penalty for handling contraband, from €12,695 to €126,970.

Despite of the success of the Customs Service in detecting huge consignments of illicit product, smuggling continues to diversify and grow. The value of smuggled cigarettes seized by customs in 2009 was more than €218 million, up 60 per cent on the previous year. Almost 60 per cent of this total related to counterfeit cigarettes and the rest was contraband, ie, genuine cigarettes illegally imported from countries where the tax and theretail cost is very low. IN Russia and Ukraine, the cost is 50 cent per packet.

So the news that two men were arrested after a major seizure of illegal cigarettes in Co Louth last night is really good..

Louth – Customs officials stopped two trucks on the M1
Two men were arrested after a major seizure of illegal cigarettes in Co Louth late last night.
Around 8m cigarettes were seized by customs officials on the M1 near the toll plaza at Drogheda.
Customs officials said the cigarettes have an estimated street value of €3.4m.
They said the ‘Benson and Hedges’ cigarettes arrived into Dublin Port on a container from China.
The two men were arrested when revenue officials stopped two trucks containing the huge haul. The trucks have also been seized.