Japan Tobacco International launches £5m job fund in Northern Ireland town where it is closing factory next year

Francesca Washtell
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Japan Tobacco International sells Camel cigarettes (Source: Getty)

Big Four cigarette maker Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has launched a £5m jobs fund in Northern Ireland, where it will be closing a factory next year.

JTI announced last year it will close the Lisnafillan manufacturing site, which employs more than 800 people, following "challenging economic conditions" and "greater regulatory tax pressures".

The company said it would be moving its production to facilities in Poland and Romania.

Read more: Japan Tobacco to sell £798m drink business

The job creation and skills development fund for Ballymena will be delivered via a charitable trust, which will release £300,000 each year for the next two decades.

North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley will become the trust's executive chairman.

Charlie Cunningham-Reid, JTI UK’s head of corporate affairs and communications, said: "We have supported the local community in Northern Ireland since Tom Gallaher’s very first charitable donation in 1897.

"Following the announcement of our factory closure, JTI made a commitment to continue this support and we believe the creation of this trust will leave a lasting legacy for the people of Ballymena."

Read more: Japan Tobacco International launches first tank e-cigarette across the UK

Cigarette manufacturers have come under increasing pressure in the UK and European Union markets this year.

In May, the EU's Tobacco Products Directive came into force, introducing restrictions on cigarette packet sizes, a ban on menthols and clampdowns on e-cigarette advertising and manufacture.

Soon after, domestic plain packaging legislation came into force. All cigarette packets manufactured for the UK are now in a uniform, dark green. JTI was one of the major tobacco companies to announce it would challenge the tobacco ruling.

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