BAT is calling on the government to be pragmatic in its approach to a minimum excise tax (MET) on tobacco in next month’s Budget announcement.

“The government has declared it is going to do it, but not how, and we’re concerned,” Francesco Franchi, head of business development at BAT told RN.

“At the moment, the majority of the cheapest brands are at £6.99 for 20 sticks. If the minimum price is set at £7 we’re almost there. If it is set at £8 it will cause disruption.”

A shopper who smokes 20 cigarettes a day at £6.99 a pack will spend £212 a month. If the minimum price is set at £8 they will have to spend an extra £30 a month. If it is set at £9, the cost rises to an additional £60.

An Imperial Tobacco spokesman said: “An effective MET could bring stability to the lower end of the market and secure government revenues from the tobacco sector.”