Oct. 26, 2009

Display ban on tobacco 'benefiting criminals'

A BAN on displaying tobacco products in stores is putting money from tills straight into the pockets of criminals, shopkeepers claimed yesterday.
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) said cigarettes sales had fallen dramatically in recent months, with the black market fuelling job losses and costing the industry hundreds of millions of euro.
It maintained cigarette sales can be as high as 40 per cent of a retailer’s annual turnover.
William Hanley, RAS spokesman, said the Office of Tobacco Control’s (OTC) point-of-sale ban had practically wiped out the legal tobacco trade.
“Criminals are costing our industry hundreds of millions every year and we are staring down the barrel of thousands of job losses throughout the country,” said Mr Hanley. “Sales have fallen dramatically since 1st July.”
The point-of-sale display ban came into force in July, with shop-owners caught flouting the law facing a fine of €3,000 or six months in prison.
The OTC, which maintained it was a pioneering move to prevent underage smoking, recently revealed 97 per cent of shops were complying with the law.
Revenue’s Customs Service recently revealed it has seized cigarettes with a retail value of about €30.5 million so far this year.