Retailers and wholesalers have written to the Government raising concerns about ongoing issues with the introduction of tobacco track and trace regulations.

The ‘track and trace’ regulations introduced on 20th May put in place a new method of tracking the sale of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain. The regulations require retailers and wholesalers to scan the movement and record the sale of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco through the supply chain up until the first retail outlet.

In a joint letter to the Exchequer Secretary, ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) and FWD (Federation of Wholesale Distributors) have raised concerns about the timeframes for retailers and wholesalers to comply with the tobacco track and trace regulations and have called for HMRC to provide additional clarity and support over the way that new tobacco products are accounted for in the supply chain.

EU and UK law states that manufacturers of tobacco products must provide retailers and wholesalers with the equipment necessary to comply with the regulations, but due to the complexity of the convenience and wholesale sectors, bespoke solutions are required which have not been provided. Retailers and wholesalers are now facing significant costs in order to ensure that they are compliant with track and trace.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have had countless conversations with members who are growing increasingly concerned with the lack of information and support provided by HMRC throughout the introduction of these regulations.

“The short timeframe for implementation, delay in software solutions and software testing issues have caused significant problems for retailers and wholesalers and as a result, mean that they risk non-compliance when new products enter the supply chain imminently. HMRC must provide reassurances to retailers and wholesalers about the enforcement of track and trace regulations to minimise any disruption to their operations. ”

FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “Wholesalers are working hard to meet the requirements for new stock as it comes to market, but they need clear guidance on how they proceed when the scanning equipment and software is not available for technical reasons beyond their control. HMRC has indicated that wholesalers should continue trading as normal if they are unable to comply because of software issues, but they need formal notification that this would not be considered non-compliance by HMRC. Retailers also need reassurance that they are not breaking the law in such circumstances.”

ACS and FWD have called for set processes for retailers and wholesalers who are not yet compliant to contact HMRC so that they can resolve their issues and gain reassurance that they will not fall foul of the regulations.