In the week in which the Secretary of State for Health, John Reid announced plans to extend smoking restrictions, new figures showed that the seven-month-old ban on smoking in public places in the Irish Republic has caused a major slump in cigarette sales.
Imperial Tobacco, owner of John Player & Sons, reported a 10% drop. The company, which has a 25% share of the Irish market, said it had sold 200 million fewer cigarettes, mainly because of the ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.
Gallaher, another dominant company in the market, suffered a 7.5% fall in sales, the equivalent of 260 million fewer cigarettes. The companies said the slump was bigger than anticipated when the ban was introduced, although it was thought a contributory factor could be the cigarette price hike in last year’s budget.