Imperial Tobacco has underlined its opposition to government plans to ban branded packaging on cigarettes, as the tobacco giant unveiled its latest trading update.

The maker of cigarette brands including John Player Special and West, as well as Golden Virginia rolling tobacco, warned that the government’s Tobacco Control Strategy would give a boost to the illegal tobacco trade.

“There is no credible evidence that young people start smoking or adult smokers continue to smoke because of tobacco packaging,” the company said.

“Making all tobacco products available in the same generic plain packaging will further fuel the growth in illicit trade and undermine the government's plans to increase investment in tackling smuggling and counterfeiting.”

The company said its performance in the past three months had been in line with the board’s expectations, with volume growth in emerging markets and price rises in the UK offsetting a marginal dip in domestic market share.

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