Consumption of 'illicit whites', illegal cigarettes manufactured for the sole purpose of being smuggled, rose by 57% between 2012 and 2013 in Ireland, a KPMG study has found.
The study, which was financed by the four main tobacco manufacturers, BAT, Imperial, JTI and PMI, found that one in five cigarettes smoked in Ireland was illegal, a share that has increased, despite a fall in the overall consumption of cigarettes.
The illicit market increased as share of consumption from 19.1% in 2012 to 21.12% in 2013, bucking EU trends. This was fuelled by the increase in illicit whites.
“The illegal cigarette trade in Ireland remains stubbornly high, now double the EU average, with a massive increase in illicit whites, a trend also seen in Australia where plain packaging has been accompanied by 151% increase in this kind of illegal branded cigarette," said Eoin Dardis of Philip Morris.
Overall, across Europe, 58.6 billion illegal cigarettes were consumed in the EU; a figure that is equivalent to the total legal cigarette markets of Spain and Portugal combined, and represents a total tax revenue loss of €10.9 billion.
The study found that Ireland ranks third in Europe in terms of 'counterfeit and contraband' cigarette consumption, behind Latvia (27.1% of total cigarette consumption) and Lithuania (28.8% of total cigarette consumption).
In addition, Ireland ranks sixth in Europe terms of consumption of non-domestic legal cigarettes, i.e. tobacco that is purchased through duty-free in other countries. 7.2% of total cigarette consumption in this country falls into this category. The study found that Marlboro was the most popular non-domestic legal brand in Ireland.