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Why governments cannot afford Codentify to support their track and trace solutions
  1. Hana Ross1,
  2. Michael Eads2,
  3. Michael Yates3
  1. 1Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Sovereign Border Solutions, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3Sovereign Border Solutions, Johannesburg, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Hana Ross, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; hzarub1{at}


Background In anticipation of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP) entering into force in 2018, there is a growing demand for information on track and trace (T&T) solutions for tobacco products. This article contrasts the efficacy of Codentify from the perspective of authentication with that of material-based multilayered security technologies.

Method To calculate the probability of detecting one fraudulent pack under Codentify, we relied on a modified Bernoulli trial experiment with independent repeated sampling without replenishment. The probability is calculated using a multinomial distribution formula adjusted for the fact that both legitimate and non-legitimate packs may be sold in the market.

Results In a relatively small market, a law enforcement authority would have to inspect over 27 000 (almost 31 000) packs per week to have a 90% (95%) certainty that it did not miss a fraudulent pack under the Codentify system. A material based T&T solution would require only 45 (59) pack inspections a week to have the same level of confidence.

Conclusions This study demonstrates the inefficiency of Codentify compared to other solutions that incorporate material-based security features. Signatories to the ITP should reject Codentify due to both its low efficacy and its clear violation of the ITP’s requirement that T&T shall not be performed by or delegated to the tobacco industry or its front groups.

  • illicit trade protocol
  • track and trade
  • codentify

Statistics from


  • Contributors HR wrote the article and verified the calculations. ME and MY conceived the idea, provided the calculations and contributed to the writing of the article.

  • Funding African Capacity Building Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. The online Appendix has been updated as previously “1/a” was not placed in the formula.

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