RENEWED warnings about possible job losses - including in Bradford - have been issued by industry opponents of plain tobacco packaging as the Government announced new consultation and published draft regulations.

The Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance , which includes local packaging firms Weidenhammer and Chesapeake, has warned Chancellor George Osborne that the measures could lead to a collapse in the value of a hi-tech packaging sector worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy

Mike Ridgway, Ilkley-based CPMA director, 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. Plain packaging could result in the loss of jobs within the supply chain and so it is essential that the Treasury and BIS undertake their own thorough assessments as part of this review.

“Inward investment into the UK packaging industry has been substantial in recent years, but further investments are on hold pending the Government’s decision on plain packaging. If the measure was adopted it would inevitably lead to jobs and investment being redirected to other parts of Europe and the world. It is extraordinary that the Government has so far failed to take these concerns into account."

Mr Ridgway, a former senior executive of both Weidenhammer, which built a new factory at Buttershaw in 2010, and Chesapeake at Lidget Green, said the industry used a range of expensive techniques and specially formulated inks, together with an array of security features, that make it difficult and expensive to counterfeit cigarette packs.

He warned that standardised packs would remove many of the technical barriers to copying, leaving counterfeiters needing to copy only one pack design.

"Standard packs would also make it easier to deceive consumers, undermine trust in genuine merchandise and lead to a collapse in the value placed on legally marketed goods due to commoditisation of a whole product category., " he said."

Mr Ridgway also raised concerns that packaging regualtions could spread to other products such as alcohol and pharmaceuticals , leading to a 'devastating' collapse in the UK packaging industry's value.

The Smokefree Action Coalition of more than 250 medical and public health organisations wants new laws on plain tobacco packaging to be in place by the 2015 General Election.