The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is urging the government to consider the impact of new Track and Trace regulations on tobacco retailers which could burden them with yet more costs and bureaucracy.
Set to be implemented in May 2019, the regulations would effectively create an enhanced registration scheme for tobacco retailers, the ACS claims.
The lobbying group has written to Exchequer Secretary Andrew Jones MP outlining its concerns and calling for greater clarity.
Up to this point, the EU Revised Tobacco Products Directive has stated that the regulations would only affect the ‘last economic operator before the first retail outlet’.
However, the latest draft includes a number of demands on retailers which would effectively introduce an enhanced registration system for them, the ACS claims.
Under the draft regulations, retailers would have to register to receive both an ‘economic operator identifier code’ for their business and a ‘facility identifier code’ for each store, which would need to be presented whenever a transaction with a wholesaler takes place.
“This introduces new cost burdens for retailers and directly contradicts the UK government’s recent review of evidence on tackling the illicit market which states ‘the government does not consider that the case has been made for an additional tobacco supply-chain licensing system aimed specifically at reducing the illicit trade.’” ACS chief executive James Lowman said.
“The steps that retailers would need to take to become compliant with the regulations in their current form are extensive and place significant pressures on retailers’ time and productivity, particularly for independent retailers,” the letter added.
“The collection and submission of data to apply for these codes will be a challenge for many small retailers as they do not have centralised administrative functions and allowing a third party to apply on their behalf is not straightforward.
“We support measures to tackle the illicit tobacco trade, but we believe that these regulations will place disproportionate burdens on legitimate businesses trading within the law. We hope that that you and your officials will reflect on these concerns during discussions with the EU Commission on the regulations,” it concluded.