Tobacco retailers are continuing to report challenges with the Track and Trace application process on the day that the legislation is enforced.
The new law, which forms part of the EU Tobacco Products Directive and is designed to stifle the illicit trade, came into force on Monday (20 May).
It requires retailers to have two unique codes in order to purchase compliant tobacco stock - an Economic Operator Identifier Code (EOIC) registered to their business, and a Facility Identifier Code (FIC) - for each premises which sells and stores tobacco.
From today, the regulations also require all cigarettes and rolling tobacco manufactured in, or imported into, the EU to be marked with a Unique Identifier (UID) code and new security features, enabling products to be tracked through the supply chain - from the point at which they are manufactured to when they are first bought by retailers.
On the day that the legislation was enforced, independent retailer Bipin Haria, owner of Seaford News in East Sussex, had still not received either of his codes, despite beginning the application process at the end of April.
“It’s still an absolute nightmare,” Bipin told Convenience Store. “The worst thing about it is that I don’t even know where I am in the application process, as ironically, there’s no way of tracking it!
“I’ve had to re-set the password on the De La Rue application portal over eight times and just keep on getting an error message. I have also still not received any communication from the customer care centre after almost a week.
“Bestway has been really helpful and staff at my local depot have told me not to panic too much at this stage as old stock should still be available for me to purchase until at least the middle of June, but clearly it remains a concern and I need to sort it as soon as possible.”
Another retailer from Surrey, who wished to remain anonymous, also described difficulties with the application process and said that he had now been incorrectly issued with two Facility Identifier Codes for the same store.
“I will be going to the cash and carry tomorrow to ask them what I should do, as I just don’t know where to turn for help anymore,” he said.
“Tobacco is a huge category for my store, we sell around £4,000 worth a week. I can’t afford for this to go wrong.”
Wholesalers and retailers now have one year to sell through all non-compliant cigarettes and rolling tobacco manufactured before 20 May 2019.
Retailers requiring help with their Track and Trace code applications are advised to email the government’s ID Issuer at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Association of Convenience Stores has also published guidance here