Prevention: Technology


  • The Codentify technology has been developed by the four major tobacco companies to enable law enforcement and other officials to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit products. The Codentify technological solution can also deliver, tracking and tracing and digital tax verification. In the UK Codentify authentication is currently being used by HMRC.


  • It is fully compliant with the provisions contained in the FCTC Anti-illicit Trade Protocol. The revised EU Tobacco Products Directive contains provisions that would undermine the use of Codentify® and we have strongly recommended that these provisions are not taken forward by the Commission.


  • Codentify works via the application of a unique securely-encrypted 12-digit alpha-numeric code generated through a patented multilayer encryption process. The code is printed directly onto product packaging during the manufacturing process. It is printed overtly and can therefore be used for authentication purposes.


  • At all times, the government is in full control of the approval process for the generation of the codes. All manufacturers, their machinery and the products to be sold in a specific country must be registered through the system with the government of that country. A server-based central information system (CIS), controlled by the government, manages this process. This acts as an effective licensing system.




  • Counterfeit tobacco products are illegal and retailers must ensure that they do not sell them. To be sure of genuine product retailers should only purchase their stocks from UK manufacturers or established reputable wholesalers and cash and carries. Consumers should also only buy from legitimate sources.


  • It was announced at the 2007 Budget that the Government had accepted an offer from the TMA’s member companies to incorporate technology on cigarette packs to allow the easy identification of genuine/counterfeit product in the retail network. Since 1st October 2007 all cigarettes manufactured for the UK market by our member companies and Philip Morris International carry the technology. This was extended to handrolling tobacco from 1st October 2008.


  • The anti-counterfeiting device used to detect illicit counterfeit product is used across the UK by HM Revenue & Customs and Trading Standards Officers