U.K. Cigar Factory Closing -- Smoking Ban Blamed

The Wales factory that produces the popular Hamlet cigars will be closing and moving to a new location.

The Hamlet brand, labeled "the mild cigar," became iconic due to a long-running advertising campaign built around the slogan "Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet." The facility, located in the city of Cardiff, had been established in 1961 and today produces about 330 million cigars annually.

The Gallaher Group, which formerly owned the Cardiff factory, was purchased in April by Japan Tobacco Inc., the third largest tobacco manufacturer in the world. According to Japan Tobacco, the decision to move the factory follows an "extensive review of manufacturing operations and marketing conditions in the United Kingdom."

The closing of the factory will cost Cardiff 184 jobs. In September 2009, operations will be transferred to the Lisnafillan factory in Northern Ireland and will bring 95 jobs there, said JTI in a statement.

Gallaher representatives claim that the move is the result of falling cigar sales exacerbated by the institution of smoking bans throughout the United Kingdom, as reported by local sources.

Japan Tobacco makes Mild Seven cigarettes and owns the Camel, Winston and Salem brands outside the United States. Gallaher's brands include Benson & Hedges, Silk Cut and Mayfair in Britain.

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