A row over Government moves to strip cigarette packets of branding was growing last night. Health campaigners welcomed plans for plain packaging on tobacco products, but opponents claimed the proposals would lead to increased smuggling and job losses.

As the Government prepared to launch a consultation on Monday, the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: "We want to hear as many views as possible about whether tobacco packing should remain unchanged, plain packaging should be adopted or a different option should be considered."

But the Conservative MP Mark Field said plain packaging "will result in other sorts of negative impacts, including the increased health threat posed by counterfeit tobacco and the encouragement of smuggled products."

Alex Parsons, a spokesman for Imperial Tobacco, described plain packaging as "disproportionate".

But Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, welcomed the plan, saying: "Cigarettes are not like sweets or toys and should not be sold in fancy colourful packaging."

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