Accused BAT takes a strike at regulators

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The Independent Online

British American Tobacco, the cigarette maker which is being investigated by the Government for alleged involvement in smuggling, launched an attack yesterday on policy makers.

British American Tobacco, the cigarette maker which is being investigated by the Government for alleged involvement in smuggling, launched an attack yesterday on policy makers.

Reporting third quarter results, Martin Boughton, the company's chairman, said of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes: "The stark choice facing regulators is whether to continue with their battle against the industry leaders, cheered on by a chorus of single issue pressure groups, or to engage in more constructive debate and together win the war against disorderly markets."

Mr Boughton said the World Health Organisation's initiative to harmonise global levels of taxation on cigarettes was "unworkable".

The company also said the European Union's Draft Directive on Tobacco Control, which seeks to set the levels of nicotine in the product, was "legally flawed". BAT said the EU was not empowered to determine health issues on a trans-European basis.

Mr Boughton said of the health risks of smoking: "More rapid progress could be made if regulators who are seriously interested in practical tobacco policy could come to see the tobacco industry as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem." BAT refused to comment directly on the Government probe into allegations of its involvement in cigarette smuggling.

For the 9 months to 30 September, the company reported underlying volumes down 3 per cent and flat pre-tax profits of £1.2bn. BAT shares closed down 13p to 483p.

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