Imperial Tobacco hires Melvin Ruigrok to fight plain packaging

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British tobacco firm Imperial Tobacco has hired Australasian chief Melvin Ruigrok to run its UK business in a bid to fight regulations for cigarette plain packaging.

Ruigrok has filled Imperial Tobacco (IT) roles in the Czech Republic, Spain and the Netherlands over the last ten years before becoming IT general manager for Australia and New Zealand in August 2011.

The appointment is evidently linked to the debate on cigarette packaging. An independent review – led by paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler – will focus on a pilot scheme in Australia – the first nation to stub out cigarette branding in 2011.

“Melvin brings with him vast first-hand experience, having successfully led Australia through display band and plain pack legislation, experience that will be essential as the UK market works through these very same regulatory pressures,” said an Imperial spokesman.

The UK tobacco industry was worth £13bn in 2012, while the growing e-cigarette market is now worth £150m.

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