New BMF app - a European showcase project: one step ahead of the cigarette smugglers Finance Minister Gernot Blümel applauds successful development of Tobacco Track & Trace Mobile App: "A milestone in the fight against cigarette smuggling"

The detection of cigarette smuggling is a key element of the work undertaken by Customs Authority Austria, part of the Ministry of Finance. In order, going forward, to provide yet more effective support for the work of customs officials, the Finance Ministry and the Austrian Federal Computing Centre, in collaboration with the Austrian monopolies administration, Monopolverwaltung GmbH, have developed the Tobacco Track & Trace Mobile App. This enables customs officers to immediately interpret the individual identifiers that must be affixed to all retail packages of cigarettes and fine-cut tobacco, and compare them against an EU-wide register. This enables rapid clarification as to whether the product in question is legally in circulation within the EU, or whether it has been illegally smuggled. Moreover, all stages in the supply chain – from production to the first point of sale – are recorded using the identifier.

Indeed, the Tobacco Track & Trace Mobile App provides meaningful support not only for the work of customs officials. The police too , will have access to the app data in order to assist, for instance, with break-ins at tobacco stores, and in order to allocate seized goods to the tobacconist from whom they originated. Moreover, in future the app is to be made available to other authorities, for instance the Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, as well as the Austrian monopolies administration. At EU level, the app has already been presented to other Member States, and has met with a great deal of interest.

Finance Minister Gernot Blümel: "I wish to thank all those involved for their successful collaboration in developing the app, which represents a milestone in the fight against international organised cigarette crime. Through this app, the Austrian customs administration is assuming a pioneering role in Europe and, as a result, will be able in future to act even more efficiently against illegal cigarette smuggling. The illegal trade in cigarettes harms honest business operators and, due to the associated tax evasion, constitutes an act of fraud against the Republic of Austria. Furthermore, Customs Authority Austria is also protecting the health of consumers against unknown and particularly toxic constituent substances. The Covid-19 crisis will not put a stop to our continued unwavering fight against smuggling offences."