European Tobacco Products Directive: A Cautionary Note


By Tim Driscoll, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Currency & Tax Stamp, Authentix

To achieve compliance with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD) became applicable in member states on May 20, 2016. The FCTC, like many overarching regulatory directives, leaves many of the implementation details up to the signatories. Enforceable as of May 20, 2019, EUTPD involves a wide range of stakeholders — security feature providers, secure document printers, tobacco manufacturers, tobacco distributors, data collection and storage companies, traceability solutions providers — and, of course, member state authorities. The EUTPD chose a disaggregated implementation model with multiple stakeholders supporting different parts of the program. Following a disaggregation strategy can help one to select a collection of best practices, which provide an optimal solution for their challenge. Unnecessary disaggregation of the solution, however, can introduce delays and confusion as well as an increased possibility of program fraud. The distributed nature of the EUTPD should be avoided by other countries or economic unions as they consider how to implement their own tobacco track and trace programs.

Centralization: The Key to an Effective Excise Tax Recovery Program

The EUTPD requires that each tobacco product is marked with a unique identifier (ID) to be generated by ID issuers that are financially and legally independent of the tobacco industry. The directive also calls for tamper-proof security features comprised of visible and invisible elements that will allow authorities to determine if the product is genuine or illicit. The tax stamp/security seal must have a combination of overt, semi-covert and covert features and include information such as the unique ID, location and date of manufacture, destination, etc. In the EU model, the three critical responsibilities of ID issuance, stamp design and printing, as well as data collection and storage providers, can be filled by three separate companies.

The International Tax Stamp Association (ITSA) has commented on various short comings of the EUTPD related to the lack of specificity regarding feature selection and the degree of responsibility provided to the tobacco companies.1, 2 Authentix concurs with many of the concerns expressed by ITSA and would like to add the following points to consider.

Unnecessary Disaggregation

The EUTPD system contains three separate databases:

  1. Economic Operator and Unique IDs managed by the ID issuer
  2. A primary repository for the management of production data by a third party under contract with the tobacco manufacturer
  3. A second repository that serves as a surveillance data store for member states and their competent authorities to evaluate the program and identify cases of illicit trade.

As a result of how the primary repository was defined, a member state is unable to select a single supplier to manage the data associated with the generation of the unique IDs and their supply chain events.

Designing a program with multiple databases managed by multiple suppliers creates the possibility of conflict between suppliers. Confusion or disagreements may arise when suppliers follow slightly different implementation approaches to the same standard. Also, troubleshooting issues often become more difficult when parties with shared responsibilities are involved. A comprehensive excise tax recovery program is a complex system. For other countries or economic unions considering FCTC compliance, we strongly recommend that the system is not designed to be unnecessarily complicated.

Role of Tobacco Affiliated Companies

It is clear that some program activities, such as the application of authentication and traceability elements onto the packaging, are best fulfilled by tobacco manufacturers. Other responsibilities such as controlling the production data and issuing aggregation codes have also been assigned in the EUTPD to tobacco companies and companies with strong ties to tobacco. And while many of these entities are compliant participants wanting to leverage these programs to protect their revenues from losses due to illicit trade, some are not.

For those starting to consider their approach to the FCTC compliance, this issue can be avoided by centralizing the program and selecting a single trusted partner. Even if one does not believe that there is a significant amount of illicit tobacco trade in their countries, why even introduce the possibility or concern that tobacco affiliated companies may be exploiting the system? Questions of fraud will persist in an implementation model where the manufacturers manage the production data; whereas if a single service provider is managing a central database, concerns of undue influence are eliminated.

Recommended Approach

Getting the implementation of a tobacco track and trace program right is critical as the recovered lost taxes fund government programs intended to empower citizens, create opportunities and change lives. Authentix believes the best way to achieve these goals is to implement a comprehensive excise tax recovery program involving a single third-party partner responsible for registering the members, generating the unique IDs, and collecting and managing the data in a central database with surveillance controlled by the government.

Authentix – A Comprehensive Tax Stamp Solutions Provider

Authentix collaborates with finance ministries, revenue agencies and custom departments to better understand their tax collection challenges and the complexity of supply and distribution chains operating within their country. Leveraging our experience as a provider of comprehensive tax stamp solutions, Authentix works with FCTC signatories to help them comply with the Protocol. In addition, as a stakeholder in the EUTPD, Authentix enables a European Ministry of Finance to serve as the designated ID issuer for two EU Member States. As a result, we have developed effective implementation and execution strategies to meet WHO and individual signatory mandates.

With the recent acquisition of UK-based secure printing company Security Print Solutions Limited (SPS), Authentix has expanded its security document design and printing capabilities while greatly enhancing its existing tax stamp program proficiency. This relationship strengthens our ability to design tax stamps that resonate with each government and enables us to incorporate a combination of highly effective security features at competitive pricing. Serving as a single source provider of registration, ID issuance, tax stamp creation, printing, data collection and analysis, we collaboratively partner with our customers to help them thrive in supply and distribution chain complexity. Authentix’s flexibility also enables us to provide services individually, seamlessly integrating with existing operations and third-party systems.

The Authentix Difference

The Authentix difference is driven by the Authentix Information System (AXIS®), our data collection, analysis and reporting software platform. AXIS consumes data collected through the life cycle of the unique IDs (generation, printing, delivery, application and activation, supply chain distribution, and retirement) and correlates it with additional data sources to highlight various patterns and abnormal events. This increases customer awareness of illicit trade, the efficacy of track-and-trace programs, and anticipates potential threats before they happen.

Authentix has deep experience in implementing new programs driven by government regulations. As an organization that provides authentication and traceability solutions to both commercial and government clients, we work effectively with all parties as we strive for the optimal balance between compliance and production operation realities. This ability allows us to smooth the way for our customers’ success and deliver on our mission to safeguard the integrity of global commerce.

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1 ”Tracking and Tracing of Tobacco Products: Defining Roles and Responsibilities in Compliance with the FCTC Protocol” 2 ”How to Make Unique Identifiers for Tobacco Track and Trace Secure and Independent from the Tobacco Industry: A Standards-Based Approach

Complying With WHO’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control


By Tim Driscoll, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Currency & Tax Stamp, Authentix

World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control


“The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The WHO FCTC represents a paradigm shift in developing a regulatory strategy to address addictive substances; in contrast to previous drug control treaties, the WHO FCTC asserts the importance of demand reduction strategies as well as supply issues.

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The spread of the tobacco epidemic is facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization and direct foreign investment. Other factors such as global marketing, transnational tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes have also contributed to the explosive increase in tobacco use.”WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The WHO FCTC treaty was enacted in 2005 and passed its last milestone on May 20, 2019, which focuses on compliance directives and guidelines. To date, the treaty has 168 signatories and is legally-binding in 181 ratifying countries.

Following the treaty’s ratification, the WHO realized the issue of illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco-related products (e.g., smuggling) required its own treaty. The WHO’s second international treaty, The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (the Protocol), builds upon and complements Article 15 (see call out below) of the FCTC which addresses means of countering illicit trade in tobacco products and the measures member states must take to take to eliminate it.

Article 15 concerns the commitment of Parties to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products builds on this article. It includes obligations concerning the marking of tobacco packaging to enable tracking and tracing, the monitoring of cross border trade, legislation to be enacted, and confiscation of proceeds derived from the illicit trade in tobacco products. Parties are also required (in accordance with national law), to cooperate with each other and with international organizations in combating illicit trade

The Protocol was adopted in 2012 and open for signature January 2013–2014. It went into effect September 25, 2018 after the mandatory 40 member states had acceded to, ratified, accepted or approved it.

The Protocol: Track and Trace Programs

The Protocol focuses on the global tobacco epidemic from both a demand reduction and supply regulation position. It requires that signatories not only monitor and regulate manufacturers and distributors, but also apply other measures that address how the public interacts with tobacco and tobacco-related products (e.g., education, cessation programs, transitioning farmers from tobacco to other crops).

A key component in the Protocol (Part 3, Article 8) is the supply chain track-and-trace program which requires all tobacco and tobacco-related products to have a unique ID placed on the packaging. This ID enables products to be tracked throughout the supply and distribution chain (track), from manufacturer to first retail sale. Those movements are recorded and the data is stored with independent data storage providers. This data must be made available to government entities to help them determine where the item has been in the supply chain (trace) and support enforcement purposes.

Benefiting the Public

By eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco products, the track-and-trace program can help revenue authorities recover lost taxes needed to fund public programs. Fundamental is its efforts to protect the health and welfare of the public, particularly young people, by curbing tobacco use and protecting them from the even more harmful aspects of contraband cigarettes. It addresses issues from secondhand smoke exposure to lobbying standards to Air courier / freight forwarder or shipping service concept : Boxes, a truck, white plane flies over a laptop, depicts customers order things from retailer sites via the internet and ship economic programs to seizing contraband. Compliance with the FCTC promotes these efforts, helps protect public health and welfare, and enables a safer market for legal tobacco products − and that’s good news for everyone.

Choosing the Right Authentication Partner

To comply with the FCTC, signatories must use an independent party to register entrants and generate and issue ID codes for tobacco products. However, choosing the right authentication partner that understands your country’s challenges, supply chain, tax revenue laws and the types of illicit trade impacting your citizens, can seem daunting. Authentix collaborates with finance ministries, revenue agencies and custom departments to better understand their tax collection challenges and the complexity of supply and distribution chains operating within their country. Leveraging our experience as a provider of comprehensive tax stamp solutions, Authentix works with FCTC signatories to help them comply with the Protocol. In addition, as a stakeholder in the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD). Authentix enables a European Ministry of Finance to serve as the designated ID issuer for two EU Member States. As a result, we have developed effective implementation strategies to meet WHO and individual signatory mandates.

Our experience combined with AXIS®, our data collection, analysis and reporting software platform, enables us to provide actionable insights to our customers, delivering a deeper understanding of the collected data to help refine tax stamp programs and improve compliance, increase tax revenue and prevent fraudulent activities.

Authentix has been implementing excise tax recovery programs for more than 25 years. As an independent provider, our position allows us to effectively work with all involved parties, including both tobacco manufacturers and government agencies. This ability enables us to reduce the friction inherent in any compliance program and smooth the way for our customers’ success.

With the recent acquisition of Security Print Solutions Limited, the United Kingdom’s leading tax stamp printer, Authentix is further expanding its capabilities and technologies for an even stronger partnership with Finance Ministry and Revenue Agency customers.

Authentix. The Authority in Authentication.

Authentix provides advanced authentication solutions for governments, central banks and commercial products, ensuring local economies grow, banknote security remains intact and commercial products have robust market opportunities. Authentix offers both comprehensive tax stamp programs as well as customized point solutions to assist in tax collection.

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The end is nigh for banknotes? The data disagrees.


The conventional wisdom is that the end of cash is near. A recent Forbes online article [1] is the latest example of selecting facts to support a view shared by many. Yes, electronic payments are grabbing a larger piece of the payment pie, and yes money can be dirty, but the most important data to assess the future of cash is to look at what is happening to the number of notes being issued each year. The data shows: the number of banknotes in circulation continues to maintain a steady growth pace of 4-5% annually. Growth rates vary between countries, but one is hard pressed to identify regions where the growth is flat or negative.

There are several reasons for the ongoing support and growth of cash. Some of these are:

  • Many enjoy the convenience and anonymity of cash
  • It is a failsafe option in times of emergency
  • For the unbanked, cash is the only payment option available
  • We have an emotional attachment to currency

At some point, we will see electronic payments (credit cards, debit cards, electronic transfers, cryptocurrencies) dwarf cash, but that point in time is decades away.

Recently, I attended the annual Currency Conference, which was held over the course of a week in Kuala Lumpur. Over 500 delegates including Central Bank currency management teams and industry suppliers gathered to discuss an array of topics covering banknote design, new authentication technologies, best practices to maintain the security and fitness of notes in circulation, and future trends, such as the growth of digital currencies, that could impact the use of cash.

With the understanding that cash will continue to grow over the foreseeable future and remain a critical payment option, Central Banks continue to invest in an array of advanced technologies to protect these payment instruments. This proactive approach to authentication is necessary as the counterfeiters are often highly talented and motivated to find new ways to deceiving the public and institutions.

The barriers to entry for establishing a large-scale counterfeiting operation continue to shrink. High performance desktop scanners, image editing software, and digital printers have made it easier and less costly to create effective counterfeit banknotes. Today’s counterfeiters complement these capabilities with holographic and optically variable elements to create fake notes that deceive the public and retailers. In addition, the use of the Dark Net has served to increase the distribution capabilities of counterfeiters by identifying buyers while maintaining anonymity.

As the counterfeiters advance their techniques, the list of targeted notes is growing. When access to a large and expensive print operation was a pre-requisite for counterfeiting, higher value notes were primary targets for the counterfeiters to achieve the maximum illicit gains. Today’s lower cost of entry has brought on an opportunistic counterfeiting approach that targets lower value, transactional notes of the local currency. Numerous news stories in the last year have highlighted this as more daily-use denominations are identified as counterfeit by central banks in major economies around the world.[2]

For as long as there have been banknotes, there have been those attempting to counterfeit them. As a result, the issuers of banknotes inherently understand proper approaches to securing their notes, such as:

  • Relying on advanced technologies, which are not generally available for use outside of banknote security
  • Anticipating future counterfeiting trends and establishing security road maps to thwart the future efforts
  • Upgrading banknote security designs and security features every 7-10 years
  • Investing in public education campaigns to raise awareness regarding the features for public use to help detect counterfeit banknotes

Because of the high degree of trust between the Central Banks and those that print, protect, and process their banknotes, it is a very small group of companies which are recognized as approved suppliers. Less than 20 companies provide over 90% of the related banknote materials, sensors, and services required by the Central Banks. This is a very different picture than the broader security industry, which focuses on brand protection and lower tier security documents.

Authentix in Currency

Authentix is honored to be counted among the distinguished organizations that help Central Banks protect their banknotes. Authentix covert, Central Bank level machine readable features are protecting 10s of billions of banknotes in circulation. In addition, over 550 high speed sensors developed and produced by Authentix are used on Central Bank sorting machines to confirm the authenticity and quality of deposited banknotes. Authentix fights illicit trade in many industries such as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, and spirits, but the protection and quality assurance of banknotes requires the most advanced technologies that we can bring to bear.


Authentix Announces Jewel Accredited & Certified Partners for Banknote Security and Authentication


ADDISON, Texas, Dec. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Authentix®, a leading global authentication and information services company, is pleased to announce that five currency industry organizations have completed the Jewel Certification program. Jewel Certification enables industry suppliers to become more familiar with the design and incorporation of Jewel into the banknote. As part of the process Authentix transfers best practices in the handling, use and quality checks of the feature. Support for a trial to demonstrate incorporation into the ink, varnish, substrate, or finished banknote is also provided.

Jewel is a complete Level Three security platform involving proprietary materials, QC equipment, and specialized sensors to be used by the Central Bank for confirming the presence and correct response of the feature. Jewel is characterized by its high security, durability and ease of incorporation via a wide range of implementation options. Jewel is in use by several leading Central Banks and has been developed in response to the Central Bank’s need to dis-aggregate their supply chain in order to have more options as they strive for highly secure and cost effective currency designs.

“Central Banks increasingly want choice and to build best of breed solutions to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats,” says Tim Driscoll, General Manager of Authentix’s Currency & Tax Stamp Business. “Authentix has partnered with six of the most respected names in banknote substrates, inks, design and printing. Central Banks are assured of continuity and choice when selecting Authentix Jewel.”

Accredited and certified partners include respected names in banknote security such as Landqart AG, PNO Global, Royal Joh. Enschedé and Arjowiggins Security. Authentix will continue to grow the partner program in both size and offerings.

Although Authentix will support all industry suppliers in meeting a Central Bank’s specification for the incorporation of Jewel, Certified partners are uniquely positioned to support the Central Bank’s needs with established competency in print trials and marketing the offering.

About Authentix:
Authentix, a leading global authentication and information services company, assists customers in combating illicit trade and managing the integrity of their global supply chains. With comprehensive end-to-end authentication solutions we help protect currencies for many leading central banks as well as help safeguard customers in refined fuels (e.g. gasoline, diesel, lubes, and LPG) and branded products (e.g. pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and spirits industries) from counterfeiting, product theft, product diversion, and adulteration.

Headquartered in Addison, Texas USA, Authentix, Inc. has offices in the US, UK, UAE, and Africa serving clients worldwide. For more information, visit