LIMERICK is a â€œmicrocosmâ€ of the illegal tobacco problem in Ireland, according to the Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee.
The committee is concerned by what they describe as â€œvery little enforcement to guard against the problem despite high rates of non Irish duty paid product flooding the streetsâ€.
In 2012 there were 11 convictions in Limerick related to illegal tobacco, although research by MS Intelligence shows that the rate of non Irish duty paid (NIDP) tobacco in the county at 31.4%.
The figures showed there were 124 convictions in Ireland last year related to illegal tobacco, 55 for smuggling and 69 for selling.
Dublin topped the convictions table with 34 and was followed by Cork who had 14 convictions last year.
Limerick was next, while Louth joining Galway on seven convictions. Five counties in Ireland had no convictions in 2012: Leitrim, Mayo, Cavan, Monaghan and Carlow. The average fine for illegal tobacco sellers last year was â‚¬2,706, while the average fine for smuggling tobacco was â‚¬2,486.
One third of convictions in Ireland for illegal tobacco smuggling in 2012 were from international smugglers according to Defaulters List figures from the Revenue Commissioners. There were 55 people prosecuted in Ireland in 2012 for smuggling tobacco into the country and 18 of these had home addresses from outside of Ireland, â€œhighlighting the attractiveness of Ireland as a target for international smugglersâ€.
â€œThese figures overall show just how much of a target Ireland is for international criminals who see us as an easy target to make money from smuggling tobacco. When you look at the average fines, coupled with the cost of legitimate product in Ireland, itâ€™s not hard to see why we are a target. In 2012 the Irish government was losing â‚¬1.5m per day to the illegal tobacco trade. From this amount criminals were making â‚¬640,000 per day.â€