Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU)
What is the Tobacco Products Directive?
The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) is a set of rules, agreed and implemented across all European Union member states, which specifies how tobacco products can be manufactured, presented and sold. It updates the original 2001 Directive and the first of these new rules came into force from 20 May 2016.
The Directive includes a raft of new measures and amendments including:
From 20 May 2019 any company involved in the supply and distribution of cigarettes and handrolling tobacco will be required to record these products into and out of their possession. This will form part of a process to ensure the traceability of those products “from the manufacturer to the last economic operator before the first retail outlet” (1).
The full details of the system have not yet been defined and are unlikely to emerge from the EU until the end of 2017. This will leave Member States with little time to transpose the EU’s requirements into domestic legislation and even less time for those in the supply chain to source and implement whatever equipment and training will be needed to operate the system ahead of May 2019.
A 2015 Feasibility Study produced for the Commission (2) presented four options for systems that could meet the requirements of Article 15. The TMA’s member companies, together with Philp Morris, were supportive of Option 1 which is in- line with systems already developed and operated by the companies to meet requirements set out in their respective legally binding agreements with the EU to ‘track & trace’ their products. The systems being developed by the Industry will allow integration with existing stock/financial control systems used by companies in the supply chain.
The other options presented in the 2015 Feasibility Study were based on unproven technology. If they did exist, they did not appear to meet the requirements set out in Article 15. Additionally, some of the Options presented appeared to promote solutions that would mandate systems that operate separately from any existing stock/financial control systems, thereby implying some double scanning and duplication of other processes.
In the UK a central component of these ‘track & trace’ systems – Codentify – is already being trialled by HMRC for product authentication purposes. In 2016 this trial was extended by HMRC to a select number of Trading Standards officers.
Since 1st October 2007 all cigarettes manufactured for the UK market by our member companies and Philip Morris International carry covert anti-counterfeit taggant technology technology. This was extended to hand rolling tobacco from 1st October 2008. The anti-counterfeiting (reader) device used to detect illicit counterfeit product is being used across the UK by HM Revenue & Customs and Trading Standards Officers. There are several hundred reader devices in circulation and in the 9 years since its inception there have been no reported incidences of the taggant being copied. We support additional options which would allow member states to choose alternative solutions. Article 16 of the TPD should not overlook the type of technologies that have existed very successfully in the UK over the past 9 years.