The Commission's draft Decision fails to provide the necessary details and specifications for the Security Features to be placed on tobacco packaging. While the European Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) aims to further harmonise tobacco regulation in the EU, the optional nature of this draft implementing Decision will result in too many different Security Features in use in the EU Member States.
In addition, the draft Decision is too complex and fails to cater for the specificities of smaller companies and the packaging materials and size of niche tobacco products (e.g. nasal snuff, chewing tobaccos). In particular, the following must be either clarified or amended appropriately:
• The requirements for the security features are to complex and are incompatible with current packaging materials used for traditional and niche tobacco products, which are mainly manufactured by smaller and mid-sized companies;
• The draft Implementing Decision fails to set requirements for a uniform security feature;
• The 2014 Directive does not prescribe the involvement of an independent third party in applying elements of security features, and so the draft Decision should neither. The draft Decision also does not prescribe any provision for liability questions arising from this requirement;
• The draft implementing Decision assumes that manufacturers can themselves complete tax stamps with additional types of authentication elements if so lacking whilst the 2014 Directive explicitly prohibits this;
• The security feature’s requirements must be simplified to allow Member States to use current tax stamps and their technologies as the security feature;
• In the few Member States that are not using tax stamps, smaller and mid-sized companies will be disadvantaged as they will have to bear the full cost of the technologies for the combination of five authentication elements. In the 22 other Member States using tax stamps, the cost of compliance upgrades will be supported by the state if tax stamps are used as the security feature.
Rather than listing compliant technologies, the regulation must set standards and simplify the requirements for the security feature, limiting the number of required authentication elements to three (instead of five).
For further information, ESTA has attached its detailed position.
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