I refer to your article reporting on an investigation by Spanish law enforcement into the illegal tobacco trade (News, Jan 5). Of particular interest was the arrest of convicted IRA terrorists as part of the operation.
During 2014, extensive research into the illegal tobacco trade in Ireland was undertaken on behalf of Philip Morris International. Illegal tobacco products were available in all areas visited and appeared to be well organised and on a large scale in most. The involvement of organised criminal and terrorist groups was noted.
In addition to the obvious additional dangers to consumers in purchasing unregulated, illegal products, there are significant losses to State revenues and losses to the retail industry, particularly the small shops that are the focal point of many of our communities.
While law enforcement acts to curb the illegal trade, as evidence by the Spanish operation, the continued availability of illegal tobacco products should be of huge concern to all citizens, smokers and non-smokers alike.
Former Garda Detective Chief Superintendent