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Adoption of the EU system for tracking and tracing, the civil society remains cautious

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Brussels, 1st December 2017 – Member States approved the European Commission’s proposals for implementing acts on articles 15(11) and 16(2) of the Tobacco Products Directive, establishing technical standards for the EU tracking and tracing system and for security features applied to tobacco products.

The Smoke Free Partnership has advocated for a secure traceability system that does not allocate responsibilities to the tobacco industry, in accordance with the requirements of the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The Protocol was ratified by the EU and 9 Member States. The implementing acts include some important provisions but question marks remain regarding the independence of the system from the tobacco industry, one of the key provisions of the Protocol.

Florence Berteletti, SFP Director, stated: “These are crucial elements in securing the supply chain for legal tobacco products, which, according to all available information, make up the largest part of the illicit tobacco market. We look forward to working together with national authorities and civil society organisations to further ensure that the system delivers on its role to prevent the diversion of legal products into the illegal supply chain. This is a first step forward; while the EU system is being implemented, we must remember that illicit trade is a global problem and that the Illicit Trade Protocol was created as a global solution to help put an end to decades of documented complicity of tobacco manufacturers in the smuggling of their own products. When the Protocol enters into force, we hope the EU will work with other Parties to establish effective global tracking and tracing rules and will reinforce its own rules especially concerning the present weaknesses of the system."

The two implementing acts, along with a delegated regulation setting criteria for contracts with data storage providers for the tracking and tracing system to be adopted by the Commission, will be published in the Official Journal in the coming weeks. The system will be operational after their publication in the Official Journal in the coming week and will be fully implemented from 20 May 2019.

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The Smoke Free Partnership receives project funding from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.
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