AS part of the Revenue Commissioners' ongoing national crackdown on cigarette smuggling, Revenue staff in the Midlands have intensified their enforcement operations aimed at identifying illegal cigarette selling.
Regular nationwide 'blitz' operations are undertaken by Revenue enforcement officers across the country and have proven successful in seizing large quantities of cigarettes and tobacco so far this year.
Revenue operations across the country focus on retail outlets, markets, door to door sales, ports and airports. In the Midlands, Revenue have a particular focus on the weekly Clara Market and have made several seizures of smuggled cigarettes destined for that market over recent months.
The market has been subject to 'blitz' operations by Revenue Enforcement staff, sometimes under cover, in recent weeks. "We maintain a focus on cigarette smuggling at all times but our 'blitz' style operation gives high visibility and allows us to tailor our operations and supplement our information sources", said John Rossiter, manager of Revenue Enforcement operations in the Midlands.
"The public also have an important role to play here and this is why Revenue recently introduced a confidential free-phone number (1800 295 295) for members of the public to provide us with any information they may have regarding the smuggling or sale of illegal cigarettes. The information provided by all callers to this hotline will be fully investigated."
The vast majority of smuggled cigarettes are counterfeit and tests have shown that they contain dangerously high quantities of carcinogenic products. Illegal cigarettes can also contain traces of other foreign bodies and unhygienic materials.
"Anyone tempted to buy cheap cigarettes from an irregular source of supply must realise that there is a high possibility that they are buying counterfeit goods which, because their manufacture is not quality controlled, provide an unknown additional set of health risks", he added.
Mr Rossiter continued, "Selling smuggled cigarettes is not just robbing the Exchequer of much needed funds, it is also hurting local businesses, and buying smuggled cigarettes is also putting money into the hands of criminals."
Last year Revenue seized 218.5m cigarettes and 10,451kgs tobacco with a combined retail value of €95.8m. To date in 2010, Revenue has seized 167 million cigarettes and 3,052 kgs of tobacco with a combined retail value of €71.5 million.