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Fresh welcomes new measures to crack down on illegal tobacco sales



Fresh has welcomed new measures to crack down on illegal tobacco sales and has urged North East retailers to make sure they comply.


All cigarette packs manufactured in, or imported into, the EU from 20 May onwards must be marked with unique codes enabling identification of any cigarettes which are being sold illegally – a move welcomed by Fresh.


While the changes won't be obvious straight away – there is a 12 month sell through period during which supplies of stock that has been manufactured or imported before 20 May can be sold – retailers in the North East are being encouraged to make sure they comply.


This is part of new wider international measures to allow authentic tobacco products to be tracked and to help prevent illegal tobacco, whether it is authentic or counterfeit, from being sold in North East communities.


From next week, packets of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco manufactured in or imported into the UK must have a new anti-tamper proof security label and must be marked with a unique code which holds information on the location and date of manufacture.  The products must be scanned at each stage in the supply chain, from manufacture or importation to the first retail outlet.


Retailers who sell tobacco products only to the public need to take action ahead of the deadline to comply with requirements.  This includes requesting the necessary economic operator codes to enable them to sell tobacco legally.  Retailers are urged to look on the Government's website to ensure they are up to date with the rules.


As well as potentially losing their ability to sell tobacco, their alcohol licence or lottery terminal, shopkeepers who sell illegal tobacco can also face hefty fines or imprisonment.


The amount of illegal tobacco smoked in the North East has fallen in recent years and in 2017 made up 12% of the regional tobacco market.  All tobacco kills, but the cheap availability of illegal tobacco means that young people have greater access to cigarettes and it encourages smokers to smoke more and discourages quitting.


It is estimated that 98% of illicit cigarettes traded globally are products of legitimate tobacco manufacturers with tobacco manufacturers being among the main actors benefiting from the illicit cigarette trade.


Fresh say the new measures, known as the tobacco traceability system and security features, are a much-needed tool to clamp down on the illegal tobacco trade. Fresh has also called for retailers to be licensed to help prevent underage sales and stamp out illegal cigarette sales from private homes, a measure which is supported by around 8 out of 10 people in the North East


Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: "We welcome these measures as a further tool to reduce the illegal tobacco market.  The availability of illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to get hold of cigarettes, and it also means that smokers continue to smoke because the prices are so low.  What we would like to see accompanying these measures is the introduction of a licensing system. 


"The majority of the public support this, and it would mean that authorities could take more effective action against people who sell illegal tobacco from places such as tab houses."


Shopkeeper John McClurey said: "Most shopkeepers wouldn't consider stocking or selling illegal tobacco, especially to children.  The changes are good news for shopkeepers as it protects us from the illegal trade and will make it harder for those who sell illegally."


Anyone with information about houses, shops, pubs or individuals selling illegal tobacco can give information online at or by calling the illegal tobacco hotline at 0300 999 00 00.  All information will be treated anonymously and nearly 2,000 pieces of information have been shared since November 2017.


What retailers need to do to

You must request an economic operator identifier code (EOID) for your business and facility identifier codes (FID) for each location at which you sell or store cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco.


To get an EOID and an FID code, you must create an account with the UK's ID Issuer 'De La Rue' on the ID Issuer portal at  To do this, you must select 'Create an Account' and complete the information on screen. Once you have created an account you will have access to the ID Issuer Portal user guide and FAQs.


You must notify De La Rue of any changes to your details or business including if you stop supplying cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco.


You do not need to scan the goods on receipt at the location they are placed on sale to the public.


Further detail on the actions you need to take can be found on at