Nigel Farage Least well off will be affected

Menthol and “slim” cigarettes also face being outlawed by Brussels in an attempt to make smoking less attractive to young people.

The controversial diktat puts the EU on a collision course with governments across the continent, millions of smokers and business leaders, many of who are backing the Daily Express crusade to get Britain out of the EU.

Cigarette firms argue it will force smokers on to the black market and cost the Treasury in lost tax revenue.

Japan Tobacco International, owner of Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges, said more than 50 per cent of cigarette pack sales in the UK will be hit by the proposed legislation, aimed at reducing the 700,000 deaths across Europe each year from tobacco related illnesses.

Paul Williams, head of corporate affairs at JTI UK, warned that Britain risks “sleepwalking” into a situation where Europe will impose legislation “even more severe” than the Government s plans for plain packaging, which were abandoned last month.

New rules on cigarette sales will be debated by the European Parliament on September 10 and could begin as early as 2016.

Cigarette firms say ban will force smokers on to the black market

This is part of a wrong headed drive that will penalise the legal pleasures of the least well off

Nigel Farage

European legislators propose to outlaw the sale of cigarettes in packs of 10, which account for 38 per cent of packs sold in the UK.

Menthol and “slim” cigarettes would also be banned, while leaf tobacco would only be available in larger packs of at least 40 grammes. Currently, 92.2 per cent of leaf tobacco sold in the UK is in smaller packs of 25g and 12.5g. E cigarettes would also be subject to stricter rules.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said “This is part of a wrong headed drive that will penalise the legal pleasures of the least well off. The net result will be an increase in sub standard counterfeit and smuggled tobacco, which will have obvious negative health outcomes. Let alone a deliberate reduction in personal freedom, that is a matter of course from Brussels.”

The directive could also cost the Treasury f800million in lost revenue.

Ronan Barry, EU regulatory affairs manager at British American Tobacco, warned “There s an enormous risk.

“Just take menthol, if almost a million smokers in the UK wake up one morning and they can no longer buy their preferred product in the shop, there s a massive opportunity created for criminals and illegal traders to step in and meet the demand that the legal market can no longer supply.”

A spokesman for Philip Morris International, owner of the Marlboro brand, said the directive “prohibits products that account for 10 per cent of the EU cigarette market, despite the fact that there is no credible scientific evidence that these products are more harmful than others”.

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