Government proposals to cut cigarette sales are destined to end in failure, according to the head of Imperial Tobacco.

Imperial chief executive Gareth Davies said measures such as putting tobacco products under the counter, removing branding from cigarette boxes and banning packs of 10 would not reduce his company's sales.

Davies made the comments to The Times, a day after the Government's consultation on tobacco regulation drew to a close.

"If these [proposals] became regulations," he said, "they would be anti-competitive and hit small retailers. How could a company launch a new brand of cigarettes? We have to allow adult smokers to make an informed decision.

"We need to concentrate on making sure that existing legislation, such as the change in the age you can buy cigarettes from 16 to 18, is properly enforced."

The proposed measures have been met with widespread dismay by retailers, who fear they will bear the brunt of any fall in over-the-counter tobacco sales.