Tracking and tracing the tobacco industry: Potential tobacco industry influence over the EU's system for tobacco traceability and security features

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Subsequent to the transnational tobacco companies' (TTC) history of involvement in tobacco smuggling, the Illicit Trade Protocol (ITP) requires that tobacco tracking and tracing (T&T) systems be established independent of the industry. In response, TTCs developed a T&T system, originally called Codentify, promoting it via an elaborate set of front groups to create a false impression of independence. The European Union (EU) is one of the first and largest jurisdictions to operationalise T&T. We explore how industry efforts to influence T&T have evolved. Methods: Analysis of tobacco industry documents, policy documents, submissions to a relevant consultation and relationships between the tobacco industry and organisations proposed by it and approved by the European Commission to provide a data repository function within the EU's T&T system. Findings: 17 months after TTCs sold Codentify to Inexto and Philip Morris International claimed Inexto was independent, leaked documents suggest TTCs and Inexto continued to have a financial and operational relationship. Inexto's meetings with TTCs, engagement with EU Member States and promotion of industry-favoured technical standards suggest TTCs influenced Inexto's activities, using the company to undermine EU T&T. The EU's T&T system appears to be inconsistent with the ITP due to its € mixed' governance and seven of eight organisations approved as data repository providers having pre-existing industry business links. Conclusions: TTC's efforts to maximise their control and minimise external scrutiny of T&T systems seriously limit attempts to address tobacco smuggling. Countries implementing T&T should be alert to such efforts and should not replicate the EU system.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTobacco Control
Early online date22 Sep 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sep 2019


  • illegal tobacco products
  • public policy
  • surveillance and monitoring
  • tobacco industry
  • tobacco industry documents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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