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U.K. Cigarette Companies Decline on Smoking Rules: London Mover

British American Tobacco Plc and Imperial Tobacco Group Plc, Europe’s two largest cigarette makers, fell today in London after reports that Russia and France plan to impose greater restrictions on smokers.

BAT, the maker of Dunhill cigarettes, declined 2 percent to 3,173.5 pence, the lowest price since June 18, while Imperial, which makes the Davidoff brand, dropped 3.5 percent to 2,262 pence, the lowest since Jan. 26.

France’s health minister will unveil a plan to remove branding from cigarette packs in coming weeks, Le Parisien reported Sept. 5, without citing anyone. The Russian government plans to submit a law banning smoking in public places to Parliament by Nov. 1. The country has the second-largest tobacco market after China. BAT had 20.8 percent of eastern Europe’s cigarette market in 2011, while Imperial had 11.2 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“While we think the market reaction to the recent news flow on regulation changes is overdone, there is clearly uncertainty being created,” David Hayes, an analyst at Nomura, said in a note to clients today.

The Russian government wants to reduce premature deaths caused by smoking, Deputy Health Minister Sergei Velmiaikin said Sept. 3. The world’s first plain-pack law is due to take effect in Australia Dec. 1, and governments in New Zealand and the U.K. are considering similar legislation.

Imperial Tobacco, based in Bristol, England, fell for a fourth consecutive day, for a year-to-date decline of

7.1 percent. BAT, based in London, has advanced 3.9 percent this year.

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