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Illicit tobacco is so rife in Ireland that the retailer behind the country’s oldest tobacco shop has been forced to stop selling cigarettes to prevent he
r business from going under.
Eleanor Purcell, who runs Cahill’s in Limerick city centre, said that a rise in smuggled cigarettes has meant that she has had to stop selling them.
The shop, which first opened in 1870 and has been in Purcell’s family since the 1930s, was only one of four shops in the country allowed to openly display cigarettes after a 2009 Irish law banned the display of tobacco products in retail outlets.
“In 2009 I was selling between €1,000 and €2,000 of cigarettes every day. That’s now dropped to €1,000 per week,” she told Retail Express, citing the illicit market as the culprit. “Cigarettes were a huge part of my business but why would people pay €10 for a pack when they can get them illegally for €4?”
According to a 2012 survey carried out by tobacco manufacturers, 30% of Limerick’s cigarette market is believed to be illegal, however, Purcell believes the true figure is now closer to 60%. She knows of shops selling illegal cigarettes, and services where smuggled cigarettes can be delivered direct to a person’s door.
In today’s money, the shop has given them the equivalent of €750m in excise since 1870. They’ve just opened the door to smuggling
Despite estimating that her shop has delivered hundreds of millions of euros in excise duty to the Irish Government, she said they have made the problem worse with the introduction of more legislation.
“In today’s money, the shop has given them the equivalent of €750m in excise since 1870. They’ve just opened the door to smuggling,” she said. “I’m now selling gentleman’s gifts like hip flasks and walking sticks, but it’s like jumping off a cliff. It’s a huge risk. I’ve been dealt a real body blow.”
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