EU Directive will not act as deterrent to tobacco fraudsters

A European Parliament proposal to force tobacco wholesalers to track every outer of cigarettes and rolling tobacco is a burden on those who operate within the law, rather than a deterrent to those who break it, says the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD).

The EU Tobacco Directive announced this week is intended to strengthen the rules on how tobacco products can be manufactured, presented and sold. It will introduce compulsory record keeping on the movement of tobacco goods through the supply chain “in order to strengthen the fight against illicit trade and falsified products.” This will impose enormous administrative costs on distributors who already operate on tiny margins. UK wholesalers who work within the law say it should be duty-avoiding importers and manufacturers of counterfeit cigarettes who are restricted by legislation.

FWD Chief Executive James Bielby said: “Tobacco products must be distributed through a responsible, controlled and duty-collecting supply chain, but our members are already struggling to compete in a market which is overrun by illicit goods. Asking them to bear the cost of recording the movement of every pack is not the way to combat criminals. Combined with the threat of plain packaging, which would make the distributors’ task even more difficult and time consuming, this measure could make it impossible to trade within the law and still compete with those who don’t.

“We will be making it very clear to the UK government that restrictions on the legitimate supply chain will not contribute to its objective of reducing illicit trade.”

The announcement in full

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