PLAIN packaging for cigarettes could boost Bradford's economy by more than £6 million, according to a government department.

Public Health England (PHE) said the standardised packaging of tobacco products would not only improve health by cutting the number of smokers, but also lead to financial improvement.

The organisation claims families would have more disposable income - money that could then be spent on other things and boost the local economy.

However, there has been concern in Bradford that the introduction of plain packaging could cost jobs in Bradford.

It also said retailers earn between seven and nine per cent of the cost of tobacco, compared with 20 to 30 per cent for food and drink products, and that money saved by customers from reduced spending on tobacco would likely be spent elsewhere locally and benefit local businesses more.

The new figures come after recent official data from Australia, where standardised packaging was introduced in December 2012, showed a 3.4 per cent fall in tobacco sales by volume in the first year following the introduction of plain packets Down Under.

If that was mirrored here, PHE predicted that total savings across England would be up to £500 million.

In Bradford, according to the estimates, tobacco sales would drop from £163,659,909 to £157,486,696 - a saving for the city of £6,173,213.

PHE also estimated that 22.8 per cent of people in Bradford aged 18 years or over are smokers - 88,456 people out of a population of 388,064.

Dr Cathy Read, from PHE in Yorkshire and Humber, said: "Smoking remains the biggest cause of premature mortality in Yorkshire and the Humber, accounting for more than 8,000 deaths every year. Standardised packaging is a powerful measure that would help to save lives.

"Only last week we saw smoking levels among young people at an all-time low but that still means that everyday in Yorkshire and the Humber 51 young people aged 11 to 15 start smoking and that’s 51 too many.

"The introduction of standardised packaging will be a major boost to our tobacco control efforts – helping move us closer towards achieving a tobacco free generation."

Last month Mike Ridgway, of Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance, warned that plain packaging could cause job losses in Bradford. The Alliance includes local packaging firms Weidenhammer and Chesapeake.

Mr Ridgway said: "Plain packaging would have a catastrophic effect on the packaging industry and its supply chain that currently employs over 60,000 people across the UK.

"It would remove the need for a series of highly skilled printing and packaging techniques that currently support jobs and flourishing apprenticeship schemes."