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 ( On May 31 The Scottish Government said it was  aware of a technical issue related to the interpretation of how minimum unit pricing operates in respect of trade sales by wholesalers which also hold a premises licence, and said it would soon issue a consultation.

FWD has been working with the Scottish Government ahead of the introduction of MUP and the treatment of wholesale, an issue which was raised in the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Government is aware of a technical issue related to the interpretation of how minimum unit pricing operates in respect of trade sales by wholesalers which have opted, for whatever reason, to hold a premises licence.

There are differing views held by licensing lawyers and the licensing community on the application of the new mandatory condition of minimum unit pricing to premises licences as regards wholesalers and trade sales.

The Scottish Government considers that a legislative change is required in order to clarify the situation.  This would be achieved by SSI following consultation which will satisfy the terms of regulation 9 of EU Regulation No. 178/2002. A consultation will be issued shortly.

Wholesalers selling to trade only are not required to hold a premises licence and so minimum unit pricing does not apply.

Wholesalers also selling to the public require a premises licence, and all sales (other than to a person for the purposes of their trade) must comply with minimum unit pricing.

We are still in dialogue to get clarity on how MUP will affect wholesalers holding a premise licence and what the Scottish Government’s guidance on this issue is. The Scottish Government’s general MUP guidance can be found here

MUP England

MUP in England is unlikely in the near future. Dan Jarvis MP asked the Home Office whether it plans to introduce MUP on alcohol in England. The Department responded saying:

“Minimum Unit Pricing in England remains under review. The Government is developing a new cross-gov- ernment alcohol strategy which will set out targeted action to prevent and reduce harmful drinking, support vulnerable people affected by others’ alcohol misuse and improve the pathway into treatment for people with alcohol dependency. The new strategy will not include a commitment to introduce MUP at this time but Public Health England will be commissioned to carry out a scientific review into the impact of minimumunit pricing following its introduction in Scotland.”

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.