Dhamecha Group CEO Pradip Dhamecha said it was chasing a number of customers who were still without codes

Wholesalers are warning that retailers attempting to purchase tobacco without a track & trace code will be turned away from depots empty-handed from today.

The track & trace system, which is aimed at cracking down on the illicit trade, was introduced a year ago. Under the new rules, any retailer trying to buy tobacco needs an Economic Operator Identifier Code, which can be scanned at the point of purchase by a wholesaler or supplier. The rules allowed a 12-month grace period, which gave retailers and wholesalers extra time to become registered and sell through remaining non-track & trace-compliant stock.

As of today it is now illegal to sell any non-compliant stock or sell to anyone without the necessary code. However, some wholesalers have suggested that significant numbers of retailers still do not have their codes.

Dhamecha Group CEO Pradip Dhamecha said it was chasing a number of customers who were yet to register.

“Inevitably, because of the current situation, our retailers have been very busy in their stores and have not got round to registering,” said Dhamecha. “It would have been helpful if the rollout could have been postponed by HMRC for few months to allow time for our retailers to register.”

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is also warning its members that any wholesaler that continues to sell tobacco products to non-registered customers will have its ability to purchase tobacco removed.

“The track & trace scheme has introduced costs and complexity for our wholesaler members and it’s disappointing that the government has been unable to provide a plan for how the scheme will continue after the UK leaves the EU at the end of this year,” said FWD CEO James Bielby. “However, the systems are now in place and the message from HMRC in unambiguous: while they will work with wholesalers and retailers who are having technical difficulties, they will also start to use the penalties available for deliberate non-compliance, which we welcome.

“It’s vital that tobacco retailers apply for and receive their EOID before attempting to make purchases from our members’ tobacco rooms