Retailers Call For Budget 2025 To Tackle Ireland’s Smuggling Problem

By Sarah O'Sullivan
Retailers Call For Budget 2025 To Tackle Ireland’s Smuggling Problem

Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) has this week called on the government to rethink its policy approach towards smuggling and illicit trade in Ireland ahead of the 2025 Budget.

The representative body for the retail sector met earlier this week at Buswells Hotel on Kildare Street, opposite Leinster House, to make the call on the government.

The pre-budget submission calls on the government to reduce or freeze consumer taxes including tobacco excise, increase funding for the detection and enforcement of smuggling, and amend the Finance Act to prosecute suspected smugglers at Circuit Court level or higher.

RAS has made the recommendations in light of a number of findings over the past two years.

Smuggling Figures

RAS says that the scale and surmounting magnitude of the problem is clearly illustrated by the numbers with the value of illegal cigarette smuggling on course to double in 2024.


In 2023, a total of 31 major seizures came to the value of €58 million, at a loss of €45 million to the exchequer.

In the first half of 2024 alone, there has been 27 major seizures worth a total value of around €53 million and a loss to the exchequer of €40 million.

A poll of over 1,000 Irish adults conducted earlier this year by Ireland Thinks on behalf of RAS found that illicit market activity is becoming more normalised among the Irish public.

The poll found that a quarter (25%) of all respondents have knowingly purchased some goods or services from an unofficial or irregular seller in the past 12 months.

A separate survey by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of the Revenue Commissioner found that in 2023, 19% of cigarette packs held by smokers were illegal, smuggled tobacco.


An additional 15% were legal but non-Irish duty paid.

This is the highest level of illegality and excise evasion detected by this series of annual Revenue Commissioner surveys since they commenced in 2009.

‘At Risk’

Commenting on the pre-budget submission, the spokesperson for RAS Seamus Griffin said, “Smuggling is a real issue, that is hitting us where it hurts most.

“While we as retailers play by the rules and uphold the law, smugglers are skirting around those same laws and cutting from our profits.

“It is time for serious investment in detection and enforcement to ensure those breaking the law face real consequences.


“Without this, the integrity of our businesses and livelihoods are at risk.”

Read More: Retailers Against Smuggling Reveal 25% Of Irish People Bought Products Off The Black Market

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