Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has reiterated concerns about the short lead times for implementing tobacco track and trace regulations in its response to the HMRC’s latest consultation.

“There is now less than three months to go until ‘track and trace’ comes into effect on 20th May 2019 and the application process for identifier codes has not yet opened,” the submission noted.

“The current timeframes mean that an ID Issuer will have to process 50,000 applications for the convenience sector alone by 20th May 2019 in order for them to continue purchasing tobacco.”

ACS further noted that the guidance on how ‘track and trace’ will work in practice has not yet issued.

The association urged HMRC to consider extending the deadline for retailers to apply for identifier codes and, in the case of larger retailers, to establish scanning processes.

“At present, the whole supply chain only has less than three months to prepare for the implementation of these regulations, which we strongly advise is not sufficient time to communicate changes to the law,” the association reasoned.

The submission also sought clarification on the process for deactivation of identifier codes, which would effectively stop a retailer from selling tobacco in their business, if the regulations are breached.

“The introduction of track and trace will place a number of demands on retailers and it is important that HMRC urgently addresses the uncertainty around compliance with these regulations,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.

“While we welcome HMRC consulting on enforcement activity, this discussion is taking place while the clock is ticking on the introduction of the regulations and we’re still yet to see any codes issued to retailers.”

Security business De La Rue have confirmed that they have been appointed as the track and trace ID issuer.