Tobacco manufacturer JTI has criticised new tobacco regulations that have just been finalised by the EU.

Commenting on the Tobacco Products Directive, which is due to come into operation by May 2016, JTI UK managing director Daniel Torras said: “These regulations that have been supported by the UK Government are wide-ranging and restrict the way products are made, packaged and sold. They will have a huge impact on thousands of legitimate businesses across the UK.

“Given the very short timelines and costly changes required, clarity must now be given on the multiple measures contained in the TPD and subsequent implementation and delegated acts.

“The EU’s decision to ban 10s, menthol and pouches of tobacco under 30 grams is a gift for criminal gangs as more smokers who find that their preferred pack is no longer available will be tempted to buy illegal tobacco. Meanwhile the UK Government’s exchequer will have to plug the financial gap left and thousands of legitimate businesses will suffer.”

Torras said that in the UK more than 40% of the current tobacco sales will be banned by the new directive, creating a massive disruption to the market.

He added: “Furthermore the UK Government should reconsider its position to proceed with plain packaging as the TPD already prescribes excessive graphic health warnings covering 65% of the front and back surface of the pack positioned at the top edge and 50% of the sides."