High-tar ban 'to cost Britain 10,000 jobs'

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The Independent Online

Thousands of British jobs could be lost because of a European Union ban on high-tar tobacco exports, the industry claimed last night.

Thousands of British jobs could be lost because of a European Union ban on high-tar tobacco exports, the industry claimed last night.

The Tobacco Workers Alliance said the ban on exports of cigarettes with a tar content of more than 10mg, planned to start in 2003, will lead to the closure of Southampton-based British American Tobacco. They said research showed closure would mean the loss of £60m to the local economy and up to 10,000 jobs UK-wide.

The industry is pressuring the Department for Trade and Industry and the European Parliament, which will debate the proposed directive in September, to rethink the ban. They said it will serve only to drive production outside the EU rather than clamp on higher-risk cigarettes. A spokesman for the Alliance said: "The reason why it doesn't make sense is that they will introduce this export ban even though the companies have said they will continue making the same cigarettes outside the EU."

The ban will coincide with a sales curb in the EU of any cigarettes with 10mg or more tar.

The DTI minister Patricia Hewitt said it was "far from clear well-established EU brands will not continue to be popular in third-country markets" and it was "difficult to disentangle" the impact on UK jobs through the directive from those lost because of mechanisation in the industry and a growing trend towards production outside the EU.

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