The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has written to Exchequer Secretary Andrew Jones MP, raising concerns about the impact of upcoming tobacco track and trace regulations on retailers.
The track and trace proposals in the EU Revised Tobacco Products Directive, due to come into force in May 2019, aim to introduce a method of tracking the sale of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain. Up to this point, the directive has stated that they would only affect the ‘last economic operator before the first retail outlet’ but the latest draft of the regulations includes a number of demands on retailers purchasing tobacco from a wholesaler.
Under the draft regulations, retailers would have to register to receive both an economic operator identifier code for their business and a facility identifier code for each store, which would need to be presented whenever a transaction with a wholesaler takes place.
There is currently a lack of clarity over the fees associated with applying for these codes, which ACS raised in its submission to the consultation on the regulations in October, along with concern over the associated costs of the proposals such as staff training.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Tackling the illicit tobacco market must be a top priority, but this should be achieved through local enforcement and strict penalties for offenders. In their current form, the track and trace proposals will impose significant cost and time burdens on responsible retailers and act as a registration system for tobacco, the likes of which the UK Government has already ruled out. We are urging the minister and his colleagues in the Treasury to look closely at the impact of these regulations on retailers in discussions with the EU Commission.”
The government’s response to their consultation on tobacco licensing system for retailers, published in early November, stated: “The government does not consider that the case has been made for an additional tobacco supply-chain licensing system aimed specifically at reducing the illicit trade.”