The Tobacco Products Directive is EU legislation which comes into force across the whole of Europe on the 19th May 2019 for cigarettes and Roll-your-own tobacco. The objective is to track and trace tobacco products – down to each individual product (eg single packet of cigarettes) at all stages of the supply chain.
Everyone involved in the supply chain from Manufacturer to Retailer and all stages in between will have obligations under the legislation.
So how does it work and what should you do?
High Level Solution
Underpinning this initiative will be a pan European database. In fact there will be one for each country called the ACT repository and they will all in turn be linked to one ‘pan European’ data base. The companies involved at the various stages of Manufacture, Warehousing, Distribution and Retail are called Economic Operators. Each one needs to register as such and will receive an Economic Operator ID. They will also need to acquire Facility IDs (1 for every scanning location).
At every point where tobacco products are moved they will need to be scanned and the data uploaded into these national databases. That will require a tried and tested software solution that interfaces with the national ACT databases. The final sale to a consumer of these products does not need to be included in this system which has led some Retailers to think they won’t have to do anything. That may not necessarily be true.
The tobacco industry (manufacturers) have created a 300m Euro fund to reimburse Economic Operators. But there is no clarity as yet as to how this will be distributed, what costs are covered, and how long you have to make a claim. Current thinking is that these claims will have to be made in the 1st year but that is not confirmed.
Current Position (Jan 2019)
Let’s be clear – TPD is not necessarily welcomed by the Economic Operators. It is not there to improve your productivity or profits. It is targeted at increasing tax revenues and driving out the trade in the grey market – namely untaxed or counterfeit goods.
So there has been a lot of confusion about what the regulations mean and how the legislation will be interpreted. It is fair to say that even at this late stage there has not been a lot of focus on communicating this widely, and reports of different advice from various sources is no doubt leading to increased confusion amongst Economic Operators. As of today you have less than 4 months to select, order, implement, test and deploy your solution to be compliant.
What can we do to help
The new T & T standards (Track and Trace) have adopted 2D Dotcode and 2D datamatrix as the barcode symbologies for the TPD. Most companies will need to acquire new scanners and potentially printers to support these symbologies.
Economic Operators also need a software solution that is certified to connect to the National infrastructure. At this stage the option of adapting your existing WMS is not going to make you compliant in time.
In conjunction with our partners Zebra and Inexto, we can provide you with the solution you need.
- Zebra are the global market leaders for print, scanning and mobile computers products
- Inexto specialise in Serialisation and Track and Trace solutions and are a major player in software solutions in the Tobacco Industry. .
They are collaborating to deliver a ‘joined up’ solution to help Economic Operators face the TPD challenge and ‘stay legal’.
We are looking to identify which of our customers might be affected so that we can keep you posted as details of exactly how TPD will work emerge.