In a showdown with the government of Australia, the CEO of a major tobacco company has threatened to file lawsuits claiming “billions” in damages.

He also threatened to flood the country with half-price cigarettes to compete with the black market — a move that would ultimately drive up the number of smokers in the country and the government’s expenses in covering the related health costs.

That was the response of David Crow, who runs the British American Tobacco company, when confronted by a government plan to force tobacco purveyors into using packaging without any graphics.

He vowed to “defend our brands” by any means available and called government regulators “mad” for even entertaining the idea of uniform cigarette packaging.

British American Tobacco produces the Winfield and Benson & Hedges brands of cigarettes.

This video is from Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, published May 16, 2011.