From: Telegraph & Argus (UK)
By Chris Holland
Bosses from two Bradford packaging plants are supporting a campaign against Government proposals to force tobacco products into plain packs which it is claimed could lead to factory closures and job losses.
The £10 million Weidenhammer factory at Buttershaw and the Chesapeake plant at Lidget Green are both major producers of packaging for the tobacco industry, with more than 100 people employed locally.
Ralf Weidenhammer, chief executive of the German-based Weidenhammer Packaging Group, and consultant and former general manager Mike Ridgway, who also worked for Fields Packaging and later Chesapeake, were among those lobbying Peers against plans for plain packaging of tobacco products.
An MPs event will be hosted by Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe, a former Fields employee, who shares concerns that plain packaging could lead to more counterfeit cigarettes becoming available in the UK.
About half the 65 jobs at the Bradford Weidenhammer composite can factory depend on the company’s trade with Japanese International Tobacco. The company has warned that planned expansion and jobs could be hit.
Paul Barber, general manager of Weidenhammer Bradford, said: “These proposals could have serious implications for our business as tobacco packaging is vital to our turnover.”
US-based Chesapeake’s two UK sites in Bradford and Portsmouth employ more than 100 people. The company said it had “major concerns” over the plain packaging proposals.
In a TMA campaign leaflet Chesapeake states: “Plain packaging would reduce the complexity of packaging and makes it easier and more economical for counterfeiters to copy and replicate the packaging.”
Mr Sutcliffe, whose constituency includes the Weidenhammer plant, said: “I’ve never smoked and supported the introduction of the smoking ban, but I believe this proposal does not make sense. Apart from a serious threat to local jobs, plain packaging could lead to a surge in illegal cigarette smoking, which is a growing problem in my constituency.”