IRISH PEOPLE pay more for cigarettes and alcohol than virtually everyone else in the European Union, new EU data has shown.

Figures published by the EU’s statistics body, Eurostat, show Ireland’s tobacco prices are almost twice the European average while only one country, Finland, pays more for its alcoholic drinks.

Irish alcohol prices are 62 per cent higher than the EU average with Finland’s 75 per cent higher while tobacco prices are a full 99 per cent higher than the average price paid around the EU.

Tobacco prices show a wider variance throughout the EU, with Hungary having the cheapest tobacco where locals pay just 52 per cent of the EU average, barely over a quarter of the prices paid in Ireland.

The gap between the priciest and cheapest alcohol is slightly narrower, but still significant Bulgaria’s alcohol, priced at 67 per cent of the European average, costs just a little more than two fifths of what people would pay in Ireland.

The Eurostat figures also showed that Ireland has the fifth highest prices in the EU for food and non alcohol beverages, at 18 per cent higher than the EU average.

Denmark pays the most for its foods, at 43 per cent higher than the average, while Poland is the cheapest country, 39 per cent below the average.

Irish shoppers pay 10 per cent more than the European average for bread, cereals and meats, and 19 per cent more than the average for eggs and dairy products.

Poland consistently comes in as the cheapest country in the EU for each of those foodstuffs.

Read Reilly facing EU battle on banning of menthol cigarettes

Europa – press releases – press release – “operation sirocco”: 40 million cigarettes seized in joint customs operation

Karelia slims cigarettes online


Brussels, 1 October 2010

Operation Sirocco 40 million cigarettes seized in joint customs operation

Around 40 million cigarettes, 1 243kg of hand rolled tobacco, 7 038 litres of alcohol and 8 million other counterfeit items including clothing, shoes, toys and electronics, were seized during a joint customs cooperation, coordinated by the European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF). Operation Sirocco , which also led to the arrest of 3 suspected cigarette traffickers, was a joint project carried out by the EU and 11 partner countries from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). The final results of this operation, which was conducted in June 2010, were made public today at a meeting in Amman, Jordan.

Algirdas emeta, Commissioner for taxation, customs, anti fraud and audit, said Customs operations not only safeguard the EU s financial interests but also protect our citizens and legitimate businesses. Operation Sirocco shows the great results we can achieve by working in cooperation with our international partners to combat smuggling and fraud. I would like to congratulate all participants for their efforts in this joint customs operation and strongly encourage more such joint actions in the future.

The joint customs operation code named “SIROCCO” focused on deep sea containers loaded in China or the United Arab Emirates and arriving in countries of the Union for the Mediterranean. The aim of the operation was to identify consignments suspected of containing counterfeit or smuggled genuine cigarettes, as well as other counterfeit and illegal goods. The seizures made during this operation on cigarettes alone averted potential losses of customs duties and taxes in the EU of approximately 8 million. The 40 million cigarettes seized equal the yearly consumption of 5 000 persons smoking 20 cigarettes per day.

SIROCCO involved customs authorities from the 27 EU Member States and 11 Non EU partner countries from the Union for the Mediterranean (Albania, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Authority, Montenegro, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey) with the support of the European Commission, the World Customs Organization (WCO), Europol and Interpol.

The operation was coordinated at OLAF headquarters in Brussels via a Permanent Operational Co ordination Unit staffed with customs liaison officers from 9 EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Romania), Egypt, Morocco and Turkey, as well as one liaison officer from Europol.

In the past, several other joint customs operations such as “Diabolo II” were held by OLAF and successfully led to the seizures of millions of counterfeit cigarettes and other items (see IP/10/99 and MEMO/10/23).

For more information, see