The 2014 anti-tobacco initiative was voted by the European parliament, but there are difficulties enforcing directives among member States. This week, a new measure is rolling out across the EU. The traceability of cigarette packs is a necessary first step to reducing black market cigarettes in Europe.
Announced in 2014, the law was only applied to France in November 2018. Last March, a decree was approved to enforce this expected measure. From now on, every pack of cigarettes in the EU will be marked with a unique code to ensure traceability.
Until now, product marking was the responsibility of the manufacturer. From now on, the National Printing Works (Imprimerie Nationale) will be responsible for applying codes to tobacco products. Cigarette manufacturers will have to finance this new solution. The objective is to help monitor industrial activities in the sector and fight contraband networks.
Better market control
For Loïc Josseran, at the head of the Alliance against tobacco, this measure will ensure product information is up to date and reliable. This will ensure every cigarette packet can be identified according to its intended target market. Josseran did not, however, agree with shifting the responsibility for this system to corporations rather than an independent organism.
On the political side, the system will allow countries to tax cigarettes purchased abroad. With this new traceability system, we can find out how many foreign cigarettes were consumed in France. Cigarette companies will no longer be able to park their stock in Andorra or Luxemburg to get around French taxes.
As it stands, Big Tobacco will need to deal with this tracking system, and finance it. If the measure has been welcomed by anti-smoking organisations, it will not fix everything. A large share of contraband cigarettes in Europe come from North Africa, where this new system will not be in force.