The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) Ireland has made a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
NFRN Ireland President Joe Sweeney told the Committee that the problem of illicit trade and the black market continues to worsen.
Last month a report from accountancy firm KPMG showed that consumption of contraband and counterfeit tobacco in Ireland grew by 1.3% in 2012.
The report also shows that Ireland has the fourth highest level in the EU for contraband and counterfeit cigarette consumption. Only the Baltic States, which share land borders with Russia, are ahead of Ireland and the UK when it comes to cigarette smuggling.
Another report published last month by Grant Thornton and Retail Ireland found that illicit trade is costing the Irish economy as much as €1.5 billion each year.
NFRN Ireland put forward a number of proposals to the Committee including a ban on the sale of tobacco products at markets and fairs to provide more port scanners – the vast majority of counterfeit and smuggled goods enter Ireland through our eight commercial ports. At present there are just two mobile scanners to cover the country.
NFRN Ireland stressed to the Committee that it fully supports measures to stop young people beginning to smoke, and to encourage adult smokers to quit. These measures must be based on evidence of effectiveness, however.
The consultancy firm Roland Berger has recently warned that the current EU proposal Tobacco Products Directive could cost more than 1,500 jobs and €100 million in revenues in Ireland alone.
The meeting was also attended by NFRN Ireland Executive member John Prendergast who said that minimum unit pricing for alcohol was essential in order to create a level playing field between independent retailers and multiples.