Text messaging soared by 7.5 million in the fortnight after the smoking ban came into force, according to Orange.

The mobile-phone giant says the texting surge was due to smokers keeping busy while having cigarettes outside. Some smokers use texting as a distraction while they try to kick the habit, according to Orange.

Orange said the number of texts sent across its UK network increased to 519.5million in the first two weeks of July. The firm's head of research Nick Bonney said the upturn was due to "ostracised" smokers trying to keep in touch with friends.

"Many people are also texting friends for support as they try to give up," he said.