Around 540 people are to lose their jobs under plans by Imperial Tobacco to close their production plant and distribution centres in Nottingham.
In a statement, the firm blamed “declining industry volumes in Europe, impacted by tough economic conditions, increasing regulation and excise and growth in illicit trade”.
Sky News reports that the company, whose brands include Lambert & Butler and Golden Virginia, said that the factory has the capacity to manufacture 36 billion cigarettes per year, yet will produce less than half that in 2014.
Imperial Tobacco will also close a plant in Nantes, France, with 320 job losses, and its research facility at Bergerac is also under threat.
Production will move to other factories in Europe and distribution will be outsourced.
Chief Executive Alison Cooper said: “These projects are an essential part of securing the sustainable future of the business.
“The prospect of job losses is always regrettable and we will be doing all we can to support employees and ensure that they are treated in a fair and responsible manner.”
When the Nottingham plant closes, it will mark the end of cigarette production in the UK.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said, “It’s not pro-smoking to mourn the loss of jobs. The reality is however that the closure of Imperial’s Nottingham factory will have no impact on consumers.
“What’s worrying is that it follows a decade in which successive governments have introduced increasingly draconian policies designed to force adult consumers to quit smoking.
“Instead of focussing on education, government has prohibited tobacco advertising, banned smoking in public places, outlawed cigarette vending machines and banned the display of tobacco in shops. Now ministers want to introduce standardised packaging.
“How many more people are going to pay for the war on tobacco with their jobs? The smoking ban alone led to a huge number of jobs being lost as thousands of pubs closed as a direct result of the ban.
“Sadly, when campaigners are demanding further action on smoking, they don’t take the loss of jobs and the impact on workers’ families into account.”