Increased smuggling of illicit cigarettes, billions of pounds in lost taxes and little impact on the number young people taking up smoking would be the consequences of enforcing plain tobacco packaging, an inquiry has been told.

Mike Ridgway is the Bradford-based spokesman for a packaging industry campaign fighting the threat of plain packs which claims it would lead to job losses locally and nationally.

He gave evidence this week before Sir Cyril Chantler who is chairing an independent review of public health evidence for standardised tobacco packaging and is due to report next month.

The campaign against plain cigarette packaging was revived after the Government decided to reconsider its decision to put the issue on the back burner.

Mr Ridgway, a former executive of packaging companies Weidenhammer and Chesapeake which between them employ about 100 people in Bradford, said the campaigners received “a very fair hearing”.

They warned that the introduction of plain tobacco packaging would have several unintended consequences, notably an increase in the illicit tobacco trade and the associated crimes that go with such illegal activity.

The potential loss to the Treasury in tax revenues would be nearly £3 billion and HM Revenue & Customs figures estimated that 500 million more cigarettes were smuggled into the UK in 2012-13 than the year before, along with 300 more tonnes of hand rolling tobacco.

A KPMG study showed that Australia’s illegal tobacco market had risen to about 13 per cent of the market since plain packaging was introduced in 2012 and consumption of tobacco had not fallen.

Mr Ridgway said: “You can put all the security features you like on legal packs. But, if at the same time we cut criminals’ costs by giving them just one pack design to copy rather than 101, then it is criminals that win.

“The packaging industry questions a policy of plain packaging when there are alternative options which have been shown to be effective. For example, in Germany an extensive programme shows school children around hospitals to meet people and see first-hand the physical effects of smoking. This has resulted in a dramatic falling off of smoking take up by this group without excessive regulation.”

Non-smoking MPs Gerry Sutcliffe and Philip Davies oppose enforcing plain packaging.

Mr Sutcliffe (Lab, Bradford South) fears it would lead to more counterfeit cigarettes in the UK while Mr Davies (Con, Shipley) rejected the previous plan as ‘gesture politics’.