A HEREFORD newsagent said he will not be the only one to lose out when new laws regarding cigarette packaging come into force on Saturday.

Any shops still selling cigarettes in the traditional colourful packets will face severe penalties as moves are made to make the habit less appealing to teenagers from the weekend.

But one city trader said the law, which will see all tobacco companies use the same "muddy green colour branding", will only play into the hands of those illegally importing cigarettes.

Anton Jesurasan, who runs a shop on St Owen Street, said the sale of "non-duty tobacco" was already a problem and will not only get worse.

"We already lose out because I know a lot of my customers now go elsewhere to buy cigarettes that are smuggled in from abroad," he said.

"But at least at the moment the trading standards people can easily identify the fake cigarettes because of the packaging.

"When the law changes it will make it very hard for customers and the police to know which cigarettes are which."

Mr Jesurasan, who currently makes between 10 and 20pence on the sale of each cigarette packet, claimed the average tax payer will also be left out of pocket as more and more packets are sold in the UK on the black market.

He said he understood the health implications and agreed with the previous decision to sell cigarettes hidden behind the counter but felt the new measure would only benefit the wrong people.