Dentsu poised to take over UK tobacco track and trace scheme

From July 1, Dentsu Tracking will replace De La Rue as the operator of the UK's track and trace system for tobacco products.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) gave Dentsu the new five-year contract last November after a public procurement process. Dentsu also provides the track and trace system for tobacco products for the EU, which went live in May 2019.

Dentsu's appointment to operate the systems has proved controversial however, amid claims that the company's links to the tobacco industry contravene the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Protocol.

HMRC says however that the system established by Dentsu meets UK Tobacco Products Regulations as well as the FCTC.

The system will be used to monitor the approximately 1.7 billion cigarette and hand rolling tobacco packs sold in the UK each year through the use of a unique identifier, which can be used to trace tobacco products manufactured in or imported into the UK through the supply chain down to individual retail sites.

Distributors, wholesalers and retailers with distribution centres are also required to scan these products in and out of their warehouses.

De La Rue won the last contract for tobacco track and trace in 2019, when it said the contract would be worth around $4.65m over a five-year period.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said retailers will need to be aware about for the handover, which will see their registrations automatically transfer to the new provider portal. That process should be confirmed by email next month.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "We have worked to provide retailers with comprehensive guidance and support on the track and trace system since it was introduced in 2019."

"It is extremely important that retailers familiarise themselves with the changes to the track and trace system and follow the instructions in the communications from Dentsu to ensure that they stay on the right side of the law in the sale of these products."

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