The government has revealed that some 34.1 million illicit cigarettes have been seized in the year to 30 June, compared to 53.4 million for the whole of 2014.
The value of the seizures is €17.05 million, according to data from the Revenue Commissioners, which was revealed by Finance Minister Michael Noonan. He was responding to a question from Roscommon-South Leitrim Independent TD Denis Naughton.
In addition, 1,160 kilograms of illicit tobacco have been seized since the start of the year. Last year, a total of 9,824 kilos of tobacco was seized.
Commenting on the figures, Minister Noonan said that "estimating the scale of any illegal activity, and the tax loss to which it gives rise, is necessarily difficult and it is not possible, therefore, to attribute a value to the overall losses associated with smuggling.
"Assuming that the illegal cigarettes consumed displaced the equivalent full tax paid quantities of cigarettes, the results of the 2014 survey indicate that the loss to the Exchequer in excise duty and VAT attributable to the illegal trade was in the order of €210 million."
In addition, Fianna Fail TD Michael McGrath asked the Minister to estimate the additional tax yield that would be generated by increasing the price of cigarettes by €0.25 and €0.50.
"I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated yield that could be raised in a full year through increasing the tax on cigarettes by 25 cent and 50 cent, with a pro rata increase in duty on other tobacco products, is in the region of €30m and €60m respectively, assuming no change in consumer behaviour," the Minister said.
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones