Table 1

Timeline of events, 1998 to 2017

DateFramework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and Illicit Trade Protocol (ITP)European Union (EU)Tobacco industry (TI)
1998EU investigation of transnational tobacco company (TTC) cigarette smuggling starts16
December 1998An affiliate of RJ Reynolds pleads guilty in US tobacco smuggling lawsuit and is fined $15 million170
June 1999RJR MacDonald’s parent company under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for complicity in tobacco smuggling between 1989 and 1994171
December 1999Through US Courts, the Canadian government sues RJ Reynolds and affiliates in alleging they were part of a conspiracy to smuggle cigarettes into Canada12
June 2000Canada’s lawsuit rejected on the grounds that US courts cannot be used to collect the taxes of another country172
November 2000EU files Racketeer Infuenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) case in New York Court against
TTCs accusing the companies of ‘an ongoing global scheme to smuggle cigarettes’16 173 174
August 200110 EU member states join the lawsuit174
January 2002Additional charges filed against Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and its affiliates175
October 2002Additional allegations filed against RJR MacDonald 16
February 2003The RCMP file criminal charges against RJ Reynolds and affiliates over cigarette smuggling in the 1990s14
May 2003The FCTC is adopted by the World Health Assembly176
July 2004EU and member states drop case against
Phillip Morris International (PMI) in return for enforceable and legally binding agreement. PMI pays the EC $1250 million over 12 years.16 Through this and subsequent agreements with the other TTCs, they collectively had to make payments of US$1.9 billion to the EU and its member states, additional payments if their tobacco products were, through seizures, found on the illicit market (although only in large numbers)16 and to mark their products with trackable codes177–180
October 2004PMI files priority international patent for ‘methods and systems for marking, tracking and authentication of products’ (Codentify)77
February 2005The FCTC enters into force181
September 2005International Codentify patent filed77
February 2006Conference of the Parties (COP) 1—officers elected and main committees established182
September 2006Codentify patent enters the European regional phase183
June 2007COP 2—decision to establish an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) on the ITP182
December 2007EU reaches agreement on illicit trade with
JTI. JTI agrees to pay the EC $400 million over 15 years179
February 2008INB—first meeting (negotiations for ITP begin)182 During 2008–September 2010, the four major tobacco companies in Canada plead guilty to tobacco smuggling and were collectively fined $C1.7 billion14
October 2008INB, second meeting182
November 2008COP 3182
February 2009Codentify patent is granted by Eurasian Patent Organization184
April 2009Codentify patent is granted in Europe185
June 2009INB, third meeting182
March 2010INB, fourth meeting182
July 2010EU reaches agreement on illicit trade with British American Tobacco (BAT). BAT agrees to pay the EC $200 million over 20 years177
September 2010EU reaches agreement on illicit trade with Imperial Tobacco Limited. Imperial agrees to pay the EC $300 over 20 years178
November 2010COP 4—decision to establish informal working group on the ITP182 PMI licences Codentify for free to its main competitors.65Tobacco Industry Working Group on Digital Tax Verification formed67
May 2011The first Project Star report published on illicit tobacco in the EU, commissioned by PMI from KPMG25
July 2011ITP working group holds its first meeting186
October 2011Digital Coding and Tracking Association (DCTA) registered in Zurich187
March 2012INB, fifth meeting182
June 2012PMI makes €15 million donation to Interpol to work with DCTA132
November 2012COP 5—ITP adopted and Interpol (in receipt of pounds from PMI) applies for observer status182 188
December 2012SICPA awarded Kenyan Revenue Authority tender, despite lobbying efforts for Codentify by BAT and FractureCode189
January 2013ITP opened for signature190
April 2013European Codentify patent is updated to change the applicant from PMI to the DCTA191
September 2013PMI donates €55 000 to International Anti-Corruption Academy (initiated by European Antifraud Office and UN Office on Drugs and Crime)131
December 2013EU signs ITP192 US Codentify patent is filed193
April 2014The Revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) agreed. Articles 15 and16 relate to T&T and operationalise the ITP in the EU194 DCTA is the major sponsor of World Customs Organization conference on illicit tobacco6
May 2014KPMG & GS1 UK release a DCTA-funded report promoting Codentify138
June 2014First Project SUN report is published—a continuation of Project Star but now commissioned by all TTCs195
October 2014COP 6—Report on the status of the ITP. Request for establishment of ITP expert panel182
November 2014BAT is fined £650 000 (later reduced to £10 000)35 for oversupplying products to Belgium34
March 2015Feasibility assessment on EU T&T system published117
June 2015Coalition Against Illicit Trade is formed118
April 2016Inexto established101
May 2016Coordinating meeting of the ITP expert panel196 PMI launches PMI IMPACT197
June 2016EU ratifies ITP198 DCTA announces that it has sold Codentify to Inexto, and PMI claims it now complies with the TPD199
PMI IMPACT announces first call for proposals to fund160
Inception impact assessment for delegated acts under Articles 15 and 16 of TPD published200
July 2016EU agreement on illicit trade with PMI expires201
EU public consultation on EU system of T&T in line with Articles 15 and 16 of the TPD (ends in November 2016)202
September 2016DCTA transfers ownership of Codentify’s European patent to Inexto203
November 2016COP 7—Parties urged not to consider tobacco industry proposals or assistance on T&T. Requests ITP expert panel to report at next COP182 Two trademarks for Codentify, covering Switzerland and the EU member states, are transferred to Inexto112–114;
June 2017First meeting of ITP expert panel196
September 2017Consultation on draft implementing regulation on technical standards for T&T system168 PMI IMPACT funds 32 projects and many led by organisations with previous TI links159