Track & Trace + Security Features

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:

  • minimum pack sizes of 20 cigarettes and 30g hand rolling tobacco (Article 14)
  • increased health warnings (Articles 9, 10 & 11)
  • traceability for all tobacco products (Article 15) and security features (Article 16)


Article 15

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.



Options Available

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.



  • The EU Commission consulted on these 4 options in 2015. The consultation responses can be viewed here
  • A further consultation followed in 2016 in order to seek further input from the general public and interested parties on the various policy options which had been developed further in an Inception Impact Assessment. The consultation closed in November 2016.
  • The Commission subsequently met with industry and other stakeholders in December 2016
  • The Commission is expected to begin drafting the Implementing Acts in April and then publish in August 2017. This will be followed by a further short public consultation.
  • Implementing Acts will come into effect from November 2017 and the Delegated Acts will follow a month later.
  • Whatever decision is taken, a fully functioning track and trace solution (Article 15) will need to be in place by May 2019 along with the requirements for a security feature (Article 16)


UK perspective 

In the UK a central component of these ‘track & trace’ systems – Codentify – is already being used HMRC for product authentication purposes. In 2016 this 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.