Retailers are still in the dark about the upcoming tobacco track and trace regulation, despite it coming into force in less than three months. 

Track and trace will require suppliers to place unique codes on packs, outers, cases and pallets of tobacco manufactured from 20 May to help detect illicit trade. 

The codes will be processed from supplier to wholesaler, but retailers won’t be required to scan the codes into their store or at the point of sale.  

However, retailers will need a Facility Identifier Code and an Economic Operator ID Code when purchasing tobacco from wholesalers. HMRC still hasn’t provided final details on the application process or penalties for not registering. 

Retailers will have a year from 20 May to sell tobacco stock manufactured before track and trace.

Track and trace support

Despite the delays, wholesalers are providing retailers with support. Bestway will apply for the codes on behalf of its retailers from April, while providing education through seminars. Bestway category managing and tobacco trading director Richard Booth said: “The government has delayed providing clarity on how the legislation will work and this puts pressure on the changes we need to implement. 

“Although we are prepared for this, it may cause delay if a back-log of retailers apply for ID at the same time,” Booth said. 

“We will help customers by applying for the ID numbers for them, with their consent, as soon as the application process opens to avoid delays.”

DeeBee Wholesale trading director Andy Morrison added: “The biggest challenge is registering 700 retailers. 

“Suppliers suggested registration could open two weeks before the official date, which is a ridiculous timeframe.”

HMRC has given the contract for the barcode production to security specialists De La Rue. 

The company claims similar agreements it holds with the Sudanese and Cameroonian governments has doubled tobacco tax revenues in those countries. 

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