The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for clarity from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) with less than 12 months to go until the introduction of track and trace regulations for tobacco products.

The track and trace proposals in the EU Revised Tobacco Products Directive, due be introduced in May 2019, will put in place a new method of tracking the sale of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain. The introduction of track and trace will place a number of demands on retailers.

Retailers will have to apply to receive both an economic operator identifier code for their business and a facility identifier code for each of their stores, which would be necessary to sell tobacco from their stores.

HMRC has confirmed that there will be no fees associated with the application process for the codes, but there is still a lack of clarity over the time that retailers will be given to apply for the codes.

After the regulations are introduced, retailers will not be able to purchase tobacco products without their codes.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The illicit trade in tobacco is a damaging criminal enterprise that cost the Treasury over £2.5bn last year in lost duties and VAT. This criminal trade also hurts legitimate retailers, so we support strong measures to tackle it.

“However, there are still unanswered questions for retailers when it comes to the operation of the incoming track and trace regulations. We are working with HMRC to address these questions, notably when will retailers be able to start applying for their Economic Operator Identifier Codes and preparing for the day-to-day operations under the new regulations.”