7% drop in cigarette sales since ban

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cigarette sales fell by 6.9 per cent during July following the introduction of the smoking ban in England at the start of the month, figures show.

Consumer research group AC Nielsen also reveals that sales were down 1.2 per cent in June, as many tried to give up ahead of the ban, and overall consumption has been falling by around two per cent a year.

The recent trend reflects those witnessed in Ireland in 2004 and Scotland last spring, as those nations experienced declining smoking rates of between six and eight per cent, and AC Nielsen said that the figures were as expected.

The research group noted that the figures did not cover sales through pubs or vending machines but that sales had been expected to initially fall, "as has been the trend in other countries which have introduced such a ban".

"Wet weather, an increase in advertising and promotion for smoking cessation products and the fact that in July 2006 we had the World Cup would also combine to affect market trends in the month of July and would contribute to any market declines," they noted.

AC Nielsen also added that it is too early to judge the full impact of the smoking ban across Britain, although anti-smoking campaign group Action of Smoking and Health (ASH) said the sales figures were "a good sign".

"As expected, smokers appear to be cutting back on the number of cigarettes they smoke. We also expect many will use the smoking ban as a trigger to help them quit altogether," a spokeswoman told the Guardian.