The ACS and the FWD have written to the Exchequer Secretary calling for more support in dealing with new track and trace regulations for tobacco.
The letter sets out the barriers that exist for wholesalers, which may result in members being non-compliant as coded tobacco stock begins to enter the supply chain over the coming weeks.
The law states that manufacturers of tobacco products must provide retailers and wholesalers with the equipment necessary to comply with the regulations.
The ACS and FWD argue that only basic systems have been funded by tobacco manufacturers, resulting in wholesalers facing significant costs to install bespoke solutions that integrate with their existing technology systems.
A backlog of orders for the scanning equipment and software is cited as a further reason wholesalers risk non-compliance as the new stock begins to filter through.
“Wholesalers are working hard to meet the requirements for new stock as it comes to market, but they need clear guidance on how they proceed when the scanning equipment and software is not available for technical reasons beyond their control,” said FWD chief executive James Bielby.
“HMRC has indicated that wholesalers should continue trading as normal if they are unable to comply because of software issues, but they need formal notification that this would not be considered non-compliance by HMRC. Retailers also need reassurance that they are not breaking the law in such circumstances.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have had countless conversations with members who are growing increasingly concerned with the lack of information and support provided by HMRC throughout the introduction of these regulations.
“The short timeframe for implementation, delay in software solutions and software testing issues have caused significant problems for retailers and wholesalers and as a result, mean that they risk non-compliance when new products enter the supply chain imminently. HMRC must provide reassurances to retailers and wholesalers about the enforcement of track and trace regulations to minimise any disruption to their operations.”