SMOKEFREE PARTNERSHIP UPDATES

EU tracking and tracing system fully applicable for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco


Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Brussels, 20 May 2020 – The Smoke Free Partnership welcomes the last phase of the entry into force of the EU tracking and tracing system for cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco.

The EU Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU (1), and its implementing legislation (2) established the first regional tobacco tracking and tracing system. It aims to support Member States in controlling the supply chain of tobacco products legally manufactured or imported on the EU’s internal market, and in meeting the EU’s and Member States’ obligations under Article 8 of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP) (3).

Since 20 May 2019, cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco have to carry a Unique Identification Marking and are traced until the first retail outlet, with all transaction data stored in independent repositories (4). Products also carry a security feature designed to assure their authenticity (5). Between May 2019 and May 2020, a transitional period allowed for the gradual recording of tracking and tracing data across all economic operators and for the sale of pre-May 2019 stocks. Other tobacco products will be included in the tracking and tracing system in 2024.

Earlier in 2020, discussions on the tracking and tracing system suggested that economic operators had been urging Member States to request an extension of the full implementation deadline for the tracking and tracing system.(6) We strongly welcome that the Commission and Member States have not granted any additional delays in the implementation of the system.

Together with other health and tobacco control organisations, SFP had  supported the adoption and entry into force of the tracking and tracing system, (7) while expressing concerns about the roles and responsibilities awarded to tobacco manufacturers in the operation of the system. This includes nominating the data storage providers, designating the external auditors, and potentially providing some of the elements in the security feature. These provisions in the Tobacco Products Directive remain a cause for concern. As the implementation of the EU tracking and tracing system is now complete, we await the publication of information on its operations. As the implementation review of the Directive due in 2021 will also assess the tracking and tracing system, we also call on the Commission and Member States to strengthen the criteria for independence within the system and, in the longer term, to remove the tobacco industry’s ability to designate operators within the system and choose the auditors.

As a global tracking and tracing regime is developed under the Illicit Trade Protocol, an independent and effective tracking system in the European Union is more important than ever.

Useful links:

  1. EU Tobacco Products Directive2014/40/EU
  2. Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/574 on technical standards for the establishment and operation of a traceability system for tobacco products
  3. International Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products
  4. Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/573 on key elements of data storage contracts to be concluded as part of a traceability system for tobacco products
  5. Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/576 on technical standards for security features applied to tobacco products
  6. Summary record of the Subgroup on Traceability and Security features, 24 March 2020
  7. https://www.smokefreepartnership.eu/news/sfp-news/adoption-of-the-eu-system-for-tracking-and-tracing-the-civil-society-remains-cautious
  8. SFP welcomes the entry into force of the EU system for the tracking and tracing of tobacco products, 20 May 2019.
  9. European Commission’s webpage on tracking and tracing, including a Q&A and other reference documents

 

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