By Jonathan Davies

One of the UK's largest tobacco firms has slammed plans for a 'tobacco tax' outlined by Ed Miliband in his Labour Party Conference yesterday (Tuesday).

Imperial Tobacco, which owns Golden Virginia and Lambert and Butler, said the so-called 'tobacco tax' is "unjust and just a bad idea".

Ed Miliband said a Labour government would raise taxes on tobacco firms 'who make huge profits off the back of ill health'. The Labour leader said the tax would raise £150 million a year to help pay for £2.5 billion of extra spending on the NHS.

Imperial said the tax would drive customers "into the hands of criminals" who offer cheaper products.

Tobacco firms argue they already pay enough tax, roughly £12.3bn to be more specific. But much that goes to The Treasury consisting mainly of excise duty and VAT, not a tax on profits.

But the tobacco firms have seen profits rise in recent years. Imperial's profits were up 16.7% last year and British American Tobacco (BAT) up 14.5%.

Axel Gietz, director of corporate affairs at Imperial Tobacco, told the BBC: "Targeting one individual industry that happens to be unpopular with an additional tax is totally unwarranted and unjust and just a bad idea.

"If you look at the taxation level of tobacco products in this country we are at 86% of the price of a pack of cigarettes in this country."

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