Plain tobacco packaging is failing to deter young people from smoking in Australia and should not be introduced in the UK, according to Mike Ridgway, director of the Consumer Packaging Manufacturers’ Association.

He said: “Information from the first year of plain packaging in Australia has shown that tobacco sales volumes increased by 59 million sticks. There is also strong evidence of consumers shifting to lower-priced brands and less expensive hand rolled tobacco.

“The policy is also not working to deter young people from smoking. Data from the Australian Government’s National Drugs Strategy Household Survey 2013 showed the number of 12 to 17-year-olds who smoke daily increased from 2.5% in 2010 to 3.4% in 2013.

“In addition the policy is fuelling the illegal black market in tobacco. A KMPG report, published November 2014, found that in the 12 months to June 2014 the volume of illicit tobacco consumption in Australia grew by 10% and now represents 14.3% of total tobacco consumption.

“The packaging industry believes it would be a mistake to blight a sophisticated high-tech section of the UK’s manufacturing base by adopting a policy that has failed to improve public health, loses the exchequer revenue and in fact may have the opposite effect by opening up further the illicit supply chain to vulnerable and young people.”