Recruitment campaign aims to stamp out fraudulent trade

8 Apr 2020 | Press Releases

An international trade body is on a mission to recruit new members who can help fight the fraudulent trade of tobacco, alcohol and other products. 

The International Tax Stamp Association (ITSA) was founded in 2015 by several leading industry companies and stakeholders to ensure better understanding of the benefits of tax stamp programmes and to promote the highest professional standards within the sector.

Building on its success, ITSA is now looking to widen its membership base to include government authorities, universities, foundations, NGOs and other associations.

This effort is designed to strengthen ITSA’s position as a credible, authoritative voice on tax stamps and traceability systems and to add momentum to its drive to tackle the illicit trade of cigarettes, alcohol and other products throughout the world. It will also help ITSA build strategic alliances with other like-minded organisations aiming to achieve these goals.

All prospective associate members must have a legitimate and established interest in tax/security stamps or secure track and trace (T&T) systems. Associate membership is not open to individuals, nor to organisations that collaborate significantly with manufacturers, distributors or sellers of excisable products, or with their subsidiaries and associates.

Juan Carlos Yañez, chairman of ITSA, said: “We want to increase our influence in the fight against the illicit trade of tobacco and other products by forging closer links with NGOs, research bodies, government authorities and other key bodies. Tobacco fraud in particular leads to a rapid increase in poor health and costs revenue authorities millions of pounds in lost excise duty.

“Our associate members will represent the views of government authorities and institutions involved in tax stamp issuance and excise product control by participating in discussions and influencing some of the decisions made and activities carried out by ITSA. Another important benefit for associate members is that they will be able to form a closer relationship with a neutral, non-partisan body that represents leading tax stamp and secure track and trace producers that are independent from economic operators of excisable products.”

One of ITSA’s primary goals is to contribute to the work being carried out on the implementation of tobacco T&T systems compliant with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and its Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The Protocol sets out that T&T systems should be independent of the tobacco industry and stipulates that revenue authorities should limit their contact with the industry “to the extent strictly necessary”.

The Protocol is an international treaty that entered into force in 2018 and requires countries to establish by 2023 a T&T system for all tobacco products manufactured in or imported into its territory.

Juan Carlos Yañez, chairman of ITSA, said: “We are only three years away from 2023, yet still many countries are not even close to being able to implement a secure tobacco T&T system that is compliant with the WHO Protocol. There needs to be a concerted push to educate government agencies and other key stakeholders around the world on the steps they should take to achieve this important goal.”     

ITSA advocates the use of tax stamps in Protocol-compliant, secure T&T systems. Many tax stamps today contain a combination of special designs, multiple security layers, a unique serial number and encrypted codes that make them almost impossible to counterfeit.

More than 150 revenue agencies (national and state governments) globally use tax stamps to collect valuable tax duties and excise payments, involving the worldwide production of some 140 billion stamps annually. As well as providing visible proof of tax payment and revenue collection, tax stamps have also taken on a key role in product authentication, anti-tampering and track and trace applications.

Organisations that are interested in becoming an associate member of ITSA should contact Nicola Sudan at [email protected]