Imperial's concerns about the "collateral damage" of reduced sales also seems to be misplaced, if wholesaler Palmer & Harvey's predictions are true (P&H increases tobacco sales by 5.7% to £3.2bn, The Grocer, 12 September). As a major player in tobacco retail, P&H's chief executive Chris Etherington presumably knows what he's talking about when he dismissed predictions of declining sales, adding that "tobacco has good volumes and we are happy with it".
But the most revealing evidence lies with Imperial's own research in Ireland where a tobacco display ban has now been in force for several months. As The Grocer reported on 8 August, a poll commissioned by Imperial at a c-store where branding had been removed prior to the ban revealed that 85% of smokers had failed to spot any changes or that their favourite brand had been covered up.
And if there is any residual doubt about the impact on small retailers versus larger multiples, that should be allayed by the phasing in of the ban, with larger outlets being required to implement it two years ahead of c-stores.
Amanda Sandford, research manager, ASH