Increasing the size of health warnings and banning cigarettes in packs of 10 would create “a huge profit opportunity for criminals and racketeers,” a House of Lords Committee has been warned.

Addressing yesterday’s committee meeting, The Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA) warned of the dangers that these, and other proposed revisions to the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) could pose.

The draft TPD proposes an array of sweeping changes that would affect the packaging, labelling and ingredients of tobacco products.

These include increasing health warnings to cover both 75% of the front and back of packs, the prohibition of ‘slim’ cigarettes, a ban on packs of 10 cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco in pouches of less than 40g, as-well as a ban on certain flavourings.

Electronic cigarettes could also be required to display health warnings, and the permitted nicotine content restricted.

“These proposals will deliver very little for public health, but create a huge profit opportunity for criminals and racketeers,” TMA secretary general Jaine Chisholm Caunt said.

“Those involved in considering the proposed TPD should reflect carefully on the many unintended consequences of these proposals, and ensure that any new regulation is necessary, proportionate and evidence-based.

“The prohibition of packs of 10 cigarettes would prevent adults from choosing to manage or reduce their cigarette consumption. The proposed ban on menthol and ‘slim’ cigarettes would deprive responsible adults of a legitimate choice,” she added.

The committee also heard oral evidence from Jean King, director of tobacco control at Cancer Research UK.

As a next step, the proposal will be discussed in the European Parliament and in the Council of Ministers. It is expected to be adopted in 2014, and could come into effect from 2015-2016.