Tobacco companies are investing in new packaging in an attempt to grab market share ahead of the introduction of pictorial warnings this October and despite the threat of sales being forced under the counter.

Gallaher-owned Camel is the latest brand to get new-look packs as the company targets style-conscious urban smokers. The box would have an embossed logo and modern imagery, said head of communications Jeremy Blackburn.

New pack designs are also in the pipeline for fellow Gallaher brands Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut, while last month Imperial Tobacco launched holographic packs for its Lambert & Butler brand.

"While we are a long way off from the possibility of seeing cigarette sales going under the counter, I do think it makes sense for manufacturers to try and gain market share now in case it does happen," said Nisaway trading manager Paul Batchelor.

Eye-catching packs such as the Lambert & Butler hologram boxes were a good way for a brand to grow sales, Batchelor said.

"Pictorial warnings are to go on the back of packs so there will still be a lot of packaging visible on a tobacco gantry," he added. "Good shelf standout is more important than ever."