Imperial Tobacco has detailed its opposition to a levy on tobacco companies that has been proposed by the Government.

In December The Treasury launched a consultation on whether to introduce a levy on tobacco companies in order to pay for the wider societal costs of smoking, and if so how it would operate.

In its response Imperial Tobacco said it opposed both the principle and the design of any tobacco levy. It said: “If the government was to move forward with a levy it would damage business confidence through an unpredictable taxation of tobacco products while threatening the sustainability of current Government revenues by helping to drive adult smokers into the illicit trade. Ultimately, it could cost the Government more than it raised.”

Duncan Cunningham, Imperial Tobacco head of UK corporate and legal affairs, commented: “If the Government pursued this measure it would show a complete lack of understanding of the dynamics of the market. Ultimately the whole tobacco supply chain, including retailers, would suffer through its likely impacts. Our message to the Government is simple; like plain packaging, a tobacco levy would be bad for business and bad for UK plc.”