A HAMPSHIRE-based tobacco giant has launched a challenge against the UK Government’s plain packaging regulations.

British American Tobacco, whose headquarters are based in Southampton, filed a legal objection in the High Court today claiming new rules are illegal because they take away their trademark intellectual property.

Fellow tobacco heavyweight Philip Morris has also filed an objection to plain packaging, which would ban branding on cigarette packets and ensure health warnings take up at least half the surface.

The companies say the new law has been “rushed” and goes against English and EU property law.

A BAT spokesman said it the Government “left it no choice” but to take legal action and that “any business that has property taken away from it by the state would inevitably want to challenge and seek compensation”.

But the Department of Health has said it will not be “held to ransom” by the tobacco industry and that the law was “defensible” in court.