FCTC AIT Protocol

The World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Protocol to eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (the ‘Protocol’) covers three main areas:


  • supply chain control;
  • law enforcement; and
  • mutual assistance


Article 6 of the Protocol focusses on the ‘registration or licensing of participants who trade in tobacco, tobacco products and tobacco product manufacturing machinery.’


In February 2016 HMRC launched a consultation on “Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – licensing of equipment and the supply chain.”


The TMA response to the consultation is available to view here although in summary the TMA is opposed to the licensing of the supply chain, specifically retail, for the following reasons:


  • illegal tobacco retailers tend to operate outside of conventional supply chains
  • Difficult to enforce such a scheme particularly given the lack of resources
  • The impact that such a scheme would have on legitimate retailers


Instead of licensing the TMA supports the introduction of a light touch registration scheme as is already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. A similar scheme is planned for Wales.


We also support a number of other alternatives to the licensing scheme which are outlined in our consultation response.


      Government response

    ‘Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – licensing (or equivalent) of the supply chain – summary of responses’ was published on 6 November 2017, and summarised the responses received on possible licensing of the tobacco supply chain, and sets out the next steps. The report is available to view here

    The Government response outlined in the report clearly states that a licensing scheme for retailers would not tackle illicit trade…


    “The costs of a national HMRC administered licensing scheme aimed at tackling the illicit trade, particularly the positive licensing scheme advocated by many respondents from the health promotion and local authority sectors, appear to be disproportionate to the additional benefits which would accrue. It would also be burdensome for those businesses already registered under the Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish health schemes to require them to apply for a second national registration for the sale of tobacco products.”
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