Alcohol & tobacco
Restricted Goods

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

We are currently concerned about the implementation of tobacco tracking trace legislation, which was introduced in 2019 and is now subject to revision as the UK prepares to exit the EU.



Since the introduction of the highly successful Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (AWRS) in April 2017 (pushed for by FWD) we’ve seen a marked decline in the illicit trade in alcohol. However, there is still more work to be done on enforcement of this scheme and it is essential that the Government continues to be vigilant in tackling fraud and illegal traders.

Further, following the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in April 2018, we are now concerned about the rise of a soft drinks grey market. It appears to be the case that unscrupulous importers are bringing stock into the UK that has not been subject to the levy.

Tobacco and alcohol
Responsible distribution

Alcohol Duty rates

The Government has announced  that the freeze to UK alcohol duty rates has been extended by six months to August 1 2023. The decision on duty rates for alcohol will be held until the Chancellor delivers the Spring Budget on March 15. If any changes to duty are announced then, they will not take effect until August 1.

 At Autumn Budget 2021, the Government also announced reforms to alcohol duty, which will also come into force on August 1


Anti-forestalling restrictions for tobacco ahead of an anticipat- ed duty increase have been published. The controlled period is from January 1, 2023, until 11:59am on the day of the rate rise. The HMRC assumption is that a rate rise will occur on March 15, 2022, which is Budget day.

Tobacco Track and Trace

The grace period and contingency measures put in place in the UK Tobacco Track & Trace system in July by Dentsu to allow product to move freely have now been disabled for the UK Gateway pre-production environment.

From November 15, 2022 existing Unique IDs in the system (those generated/activated or aggregated before November 15) will continue to produce warnings, but every new unit level unique identifier or aggregated level unique

identifier reported into the system will be subject to all the validation rules. Wrongly reported Economic Operator Identifiers / Facility Identifiers will return errors and unique identifiers that do not exist will also return errors.

This is to allow all Economic Operators to test the system so they can prepare and take action on any validation issues they encounter in order to be be ready for when HMRC turn on all validations (date TBC).

Any questions, please contact Dentsu


HMRC has updated its anti-forestalling restrictions, ready for a tobacco duty rise in March 2023. For Spring 2023, restrictions will be in place from January 1, 2023 until 11:59am on the day of the rate rise. HMRC’s assumption is that a rate rise will occur on March 22, 2023.