It will happen as soon as they let the reps out again

Andrew and Sharon Carne wrote from The Old Boathouse, a seasonal store they run in Sennen Cove, Penzance, to say that they appear to have been caught out by the 20 May drop dead date and will be left with some of non-compliant track and trace tobacco stocks, namely one carton of Mayfair Sky Blue and some loose packs.

The track and trace system, which says that each retailer must have valid IDs to purchase cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products, came into force on 20 May 2019 with a 12-month window for stocks of product manufactured/imported before 20 May 2019 to clear the system.

In usual times the Carnes reopen for the year in March. “We stopped buying menthol related products in August last year but had no choice regarding track and trace other than to stop selling tobacco altogether. Under normal circumstances we might have cleared the soon to be illegal stock but for some reason everyone started staying at home and not coming on holiday!”

Andrew adds: “I spoke with JTI which is running a buy back on menthol products but they said not track and trace. I find this odd because they are both subject to the same change in legislation, TPD2. I was told to contact the wholesaler, Booker, which also did not want to know.

“I once, long ago, saw an Imperial Tobacco rep but he was the only one brave enough to come this far west of the Tamar. It looks like we shall be out of pocket, albeit only for one carton, but I had hoped that big tobacco could have stretched to at least swapping it out.”

I contacted JTI and their public relations company confirmed that Andrew and Sharon would be reimbursed.

Andrew also reported back that his rep said he would be happy to swap out the stock “although it is not the official JTI line”. That was on 18 May.

But in fact JTI appears to have changed tack, as the next day they issued a release quoting Ross Hennessy, sales vice-president UK.

It goes like this: “After listening to feedback from trade customers and retailers across all channels, JTI can now confirm that we will take back all non-compliant track & trace and menthol & capsule stock held by every retailer who our sales reps visit. We will aim to uplift this stock within 12 weeks from the time our sales reps return to the trade. Whilst the current Covid-19 situation is clearly unprecedented, we are determined to continue to support our trade partners through this period of uncertainty and JTI sales representatives are in constant contact with their retailers via phone. Should your local JTI representative not be able to visit your store immediately following the implementation of track & trace and the menthol & capsule ban on the 20th May 2020, please ensure that you keep JTI menthol & capsule and non-complaint track & trace stock that needs swapping, separate from other stock. For clarification, all retailers will need to supply their JTI rep with both track & trace ID codes. As soon as it is safe to do so, your JTI representative will begin visiting again, so please ensure stock has been separated in readiness for their visit. In the meantime, should you require assistance, please either contact your JTI representative by phone, visit our trade website JTI Advance or call the customer care line on 0800 163503.”

So now it is the official line.