EU apprised of UK track and trace concerns

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The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has taken up the UK retailers’ concerns regarding the tobacco track and trace regulations with the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union.

On behalf its members including the ACS, Independent Retail Europe, the umbrella organisation of European trade associations, has made representations to the European Commission Tobacco Control Subgroup on Traceability and Security Features ahead of a meeting of the group.

“Several elements of the system remain unclear, we needed and therefore very much appreciated the close cooperation with ACS on this issue to help reveal the gaps and create awareness with the Commission and the member states,” said Else Groen, director general of Independent Retail Europe.

The trade group raised concerns particularly on the appeals process for claiming compensation, operational disruption due to the time required to scan and record tobacco, lack of clarity on requirements to record the sale of tobacco and ambiguity around escalation or notification processes if the system goes offline.

“As the system operates at an EU level, it is important that we have worked with our EU representative group Independent Retail Europe to make the European Commission aware about outstanding issues with the system,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.

“We hope that the subgroup can support retailers by providing clarity on aspects of the regulations which are left open to interpretation.”

The track and trace regulations, which came into effect on 20 May, stem from the EU Tobacco Products Directive 2014 which provides for EU-wide systems of traceability and security features for tobacco products to address the issue of illicit trade.

Last week, the ACS and the Federation of Wholesale Distributors have jointly asked the Exchequer Secretary to address a range of issues with the regulations, including technical problems with the software required for the system, confusion over how tobacco theft is handled in the system, and significant operational difficulties experienced by wholesalers.