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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. 1 Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2 Sovereign Border Solutions, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3 Sovereign 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

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  • 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.