Alcohol & tobacco
Restricted Goods

As distributors of tobacco products, FWD members help to ensure that age-restricted goods are sold legally through responsible retailers.

FWD supports measures to prevent the illegal trade in counterfeit and duty-avoided cigarettes, and initiatives that raise awareness of the health harms associated with smoking. We’re working with Imperial Tobacco to encourage retailers and other cash and carry customers to report illicit activity in the tobacco market.

Recently, the EU Commission published its draft regulations to establish a ‘track and trace’ system for tobacco. The draft regulations offer a regulatory framework that would place numerous requirements on wholesalers. FWD has joined with colleagues from 15 trade associations in the European distribution sector to raise concerns with the European Commission on this issue, as well as engaging directly with HMRC in the UK, as well as the EU Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons.

Minimum price, maximum disruption
Minimum Unit Price for Alcohol

Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol at 50p per unit was introduced in Scotland on May 1. The Scottish Government has published general guidance for ‘reference for sellers of alcohol’ on MUP (www.minimumunitpricing.scot).

December 5: The Scottish Government has published its Alcohol Framework 2018, which sets out its interventions and policies to help reduce associated harms from alcohol. Minimum Unit Pricing is discussed in the report and the Scottish Government says it will review the minimum unit price level of 50 pence per unit following two full years of operation, after 1 May 2020.

  1. The Framework also includes:
  2. A commitment to consult when the Scottish Government update the statutory guidance on the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 to provide clarity for Licensing Boards on implementing the public health objectiveand the overprovision statement. The Framework confirmed that the licensing system will be kept under review “to ensure that it can deliver for public health”.
  3. Proposals to consult on alcohol marketing such as public spaces and online. Under the framework, the UK Government will be pressed to impose a 9 pm watershed for alcohol advertising on TV, and restrictions on advertising in cinemas are also proposed.
  4. Alcohol producers will be urged to put health information on labels and the Scottish Government will be prepared to consider pursuing a mandatory approach in Scotland if the UK Government’s deadline of September 2019 is not met.

August 8: The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the Minimum Unit Pricing and treatment of wholesalers with a premise licence. Minimum Unit Pricing is a mandatory condition of licence in Scotland which has led to some confusion over how it should apply to wholesalers with a premises licence selling to both trade and non-trade customers.

In the consultation document the Scottish Government states: “There is no intention, and there never has been any intention, by the Scottish Government that Minimum Unit Pricing would apply to trade sales. The policy is that only sales of alcohol which are not trade sales should be subject to the minimum price.” 

This consultation aims to clarify that position in the regulations and to make clear that wholesalers with a premise licence are permitted to operate dual pricing.

FWD welcomes this clarification and will be responding to the consultation, which runs until October 26.

Tobacco Track and Trace

June 7: FWD met HMRC to discuss track and trace requirements on tobacco, which will apply from May 20, 2019. From that date all cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco in the EU market must carry a unique identifier on each unit, aggregated pack, master, pallet and container. The identifier will take the form of a barcode or QR code which will need to be scanned and the information sent to a third party database (appointed by HMRC) when cigarettes/RYO tobacco are dispatched to retail customers.

Although the system goes live in 2019 there will be a 12 month implementation period to allow sell through of non-coded tobacco; however, all coded products will need to be scanned out from May 20, 2019. The security features and scanning process required will be specified by HMRC in the autumn.

Wholesalers will need to apply for an Economic Operator Code, which will be available from January 2019. HMRC guidance will be published in the autumn. No action is required by wholesalers at this point.