Lucky Strike

British American Tobacco (BAT) is prepared to file a lawsuit against the UK Government if it approves the implementation of plain cigarette packaging.

The Wall Street Journal quoted British American Tobacco Corporate and Regulatory Affairs director Jerome Abelman as saying: "If regulation comes through, we will be forced into the position of a legal challenge."

MPs in the UK are expected to vote on plain cigarette packaging before May’s general election.

The new law would permit only specified text such as the brand and variant name, and ensure that any permitted text adheres to particular requirements.

BAT saw profits decline last year.

Hit by exchange rate movements, the company said currency devaluations, especially in the ruble, yen and Brazilian real, had an adverse impact of £1.71bn on its revenue, according to the publication.

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"If regulation comes through, we will be forced into the position of a legal challenge."

BAT CEO Nicandro Durante was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying: "We expect the trading environment to remain difficult in 2015 and that foreign exchange headwinds will continue to have a significant impact."

The company posted an 8.4% decline in annual 2014 revenues to £13.97bn. It generated £3.12bn in profits, compared with £3.90bn in 2013.

BAT’s cigarettes sales declined 1.4%, compared with a fall of 2.7% a year earlier.

Image: BAT’s Lucky Strike Red original box. Photo: courtesy of Benmooe / Wikipedia.