LONDON: Tobacco companies have come out fighting against the UK government's proposals to change the ways in which smoking products are marketed and sold.

The firms, including Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, claim the Department of Health's intentions to put cigarettes in plain packs, outlaw packs of ten and ban displays in shops will fuel the counterfeit market and hurt small retailers.

But Imperial ceo Gareth Davis claims that the measures would not affect sales of the company's brands, such as Lambert & Butler and Gitanes.

He argues that adult smokers should be allowed to make their own informed choices, while the government's efforts should focus on preventing youngsters from buying cigarettes by properly enforcing current laws.

He condemned the DoH's proposal to ban cigarette vending machines, most of which are in pubs where, legally at least, drinkers should be over 18.

Warns BAT's director of corporate and regulatory affairs, Michael Prideaux: "Care is needed to avoid ineffectual laws with unintended consequences: fuelling the black market that makes cigarettes more accessible to children; ruining the livelihoods of small retailers; undermining a competitive market; and breaching companies' intellectual property rights."

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff